Remember eating egg and soldiers when you were a child? I still love the simplicity of that childhood dish. The warm, buttery egg, seasoned with a little salt and the crunch of white toast cut into fingers. It is the food of superheroes.
You can get this marvellous dish on the breakfast menu at Benji’s served with Marmite soldiers, or if you want to have something as comforting and healthy for lunch, then replacing the soldiers with fresh spears of asparagus could be your new superhero dish. Norfolk asparagus served with pheasant egg and celery salt is one of my favourite dishes on the menu here at Jarrold. It’s the grown-up version of egg and soldiers, it uses Norfolk ingredients and is perfect for this time of the year when asparagus is in season.
There is nothing quite like eating foods that are in season (asparagus season runs from St George’s Day on April 23 through to the Summer Solstice on June 21). Not only do they retain more nutrients than foods that are not in season (which is better for your health), you are also supporting local farmers who choose to farm sustainably. Asparagus is also versatile and can be eaten raw – try shaving it to create curls in a salad or garnish, cooked – try it roasted, grilled, tossed into pasta, and cold – cook then eat as a snack or throw into a salad. And it is one of the foods that is loved by meat-eaters, veggies, vegans and those that need to go gluten free – it’s a food that unifies the nation – and Europe, although here the larger white variety of asparagus is more popular than its green relative.
To me, asparagus marks the start of Spring, the move away from heavier dishes to a menu full of lighter plates. It’s one of my favourite ingredients to use in cooking because it is so adaptable, and it goes perfectly with hollandaise or for an alternative sauce why not try salsa verde? (Asparagus served with roasted corn-fed chicken, new potatoes and salsa verde is also on the menu at Benji’s). Thanks to the antioxidants in asparagus it is also said to ease the symptoms of a hangover as it protects your liver cells from alcohol toxins… how super is that?