Asparagus: Health benefits and meals to make with the versatile spring vegetable

Asparagus season lasts from April to June each year. (Getty Images)

Asparagus season is here making it the ideal time to make the most of the versatile spring vegetable.

The perennial flowering plant isn’t in season for long: just eight weeks each year, from April to June. While in season, it’s usually readily available and cheaper than at other times of the year.

It’s not just delicious but good for you, too. Asparagus is a rich source of vitamin C, which boosts the immune system. It’s also believed to help detoxify the body.

Asparagus can be found in most supermarkets, vegetable boxes and at farmers’ markets or you can opt to grow it yourself.

According to the RHS, it’s surprisingly easy to grow and thrives on well-drained soil or in raised beds. Just make sure it’s well fed and weed-free. Plant in March and keep in mind that you won’t be able to grow any asparagus in the first year as the plant needs time to grow out its root system.

Asparagus recipe ideas

There are lots of ways you can cook asparagus to suit all diets. Meat lovers can wrap it in parma ham; vegetarians can serve it in a cheesy quiche, tart or with eggs; vegans can eat it in a risotto with peas and mint.

To prepare asparagus, simply wash the stalks well and snap - or cut - off the ends. You can grill, roast, sauté or blanch it.

Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto

A very simple starter or side, this ‘asparagus in a blanket’ takes minutes to make. Boil or grill the asparagus and wrap it in the ham. Easy as that.

Prosciutto wrapped in asparagus is a simple way to serve the vegetable. (Getty Images)

Risotto with asparagus, beans and mint (or any other vegetables of your choosing)

Featuring asparagus as the hero of this dish, throw in any other vegetables of your choosing. Garnish with mint and crumbled feta, if you’re not making it vegan. Jamie Oliver has a delicious version with lemon while a brilliantly easy, but slightly more basic, version can be found on the BBC’s website.

Serve asparagus as the hero ingredient in a vegetarian risotto dish. (Getty Images)

Asparagus, pesto and peas puff pastry tart

Another great, quick asparagus-packed meal. Slather a roll of puff pastry in pesto and layer it in beans, asparagus and whatever other veg you love. We recommend scattering some pine nuts and goat’s cheese on top. Oven cook for roughly 20-25 mins or until the sides have puffed up and turned golden.

Asparagus tastes delicious on a simple ready-roll puff pastry tart with peas, pesto and cheese. (Getty Images)

Grilled asparagus with poached eggs and parmesan shavings

A lovely, light dish, this meal takes minutes to make. Simply grill some asparagus and top it with poached eggs and parmesan shavings. Perfect for lunch on a warm, spring day or for a weekend brunch. Take it to the next level with some smoked salmon.

Grilled asparagus with poached eggs and parmesan shavings is another delicious way to eat the vegetable. (Getty Images)

Asparagus soup

Perfect for serving hot or cold, a creamy asparagus soup makes for an elegant starter - or upsize your bowl and pair with a stack of sourdough to eat as a nutritious main. Make with chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you prefer), onions, cream and garnish with dill. Delia Smith has a great recipe you can follow.

Blend asparagus into a creamy soup and serve it with toasted ciabatta for a lighter meal. (Getty Images)

Asparagus served with steak

While asparagus can easily be the highlight of a meal, it also works wonderfully as a side. Serve it with steak, pork, chicken and potatoes drizzled in a topping of your choice. We recommend a peppercorn or blue cheese sauce.

Serve asparagus with meat such as steak or pork. Top the meat with a peppercorn or blue cheese sauce. (Getty Image)

Asparagus, spring onion and cheddar omelette

Not much beats an omelette. Super easy to make and lovely and filling, it’s a classic. Asparagus tastes delicious in it and, chopped into small pieces, doesn’t need to be pre-cooked. Throw in some spring onions and scatter a good handful of grated cheese on top to finish it off.

A quick, easy and delicious way to serve asparagus is in an omelette with cheese, spring onions and your choice of additional veg or meat. (Getty Images)