“April’s asparagus, for me…”

In Southern Navarre (La Ribera) we have a saying that indicates when to eat asparagus: “April´s asparagus, for me; that of May, for the master; June´s for none”.

With the month of April, this delicacy has already begun to appear in the markets and on restaurant menus, which is now at its best in terms of flavor and texture.

Today they are eaten roasted, grilled, raw in carpaccio, with eggs, and in a thousand other ways, but until a few years ago the traditional and almost unique way of preparing fresh asparagus was to boil them.

It is advisable to use a tall and narrow saucepan and put the asparagus in a vertical position, with the buds facing upwards. An alternative if we do not have a suitable saucepan is to tie the asparagus or wrap it with a kitchen towel. The important thing is that the buds are on top, just submerged in the water. In this way, the asparagus base, harder and more fibrous, receives more heat and we get the whole asparagus to cook at its point. Some cooks add sugar to the water to reduce the bitterness, but if the asparagus is good and fresh we believe that it is not necessary. In fact the bitterness is part of its charm.

For a dressing, in Navarra we have three traditional alternatives: vinaigrette, mayonnaise or a good jet of extra virgin olive oil.

Either as a base for the vinaigrette or mayonnaise, or as a seasoning alone, it is recommended to use a delicate and balanced extra virgin olive oil, fruity and with little bitterness to complement the natural asparagus flavor. The Arbequina variety is probably the most suitable for this. In any case, we will use an oil of the highest quality since it does not make much sense to spoil such a delicious dish because we want to save a few cents by using a lackluster oil.

In the Ribera de Navarra there are several great olive oils of the Arbequina variety, ideal to accompany good asparagus. Of course, we recommend Castillo de Monteagudo.