Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a starter / Vegetarian
I love it when the first asparagus appears in the shops in late spring. These bright green spears are so delicious cooked simply in a little salted boiling water. There are few things much better than a big feast of asparagus and a divine bowl of homemade hollandaise sauce, mopped up with toasted bread and washed down with a glass of wine!
- 32 spears fresh green asparagus
- 4–8 slices good-quality white bread
- Soft butter, for the toast
- For the hollandaise sauce:
- 2 egg yolks
- 100g (4oz) butter, cubed
- 1–2 tsp lemon juice
- To make the hollandaise sauce, place the egg yolks in a heatproof glass bowl. Heat the butter in a saucepan until foaming, then pour gradually onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Add the lemon juice to taste, and then pour into a heatproof measuring jug. Half-fill a saucepan with hot water from the kettle and place the jug of hollandaise in the saucepan to keep warm. When the water cools, just put the saucepan on a gentle heat, but do not let the water boil too long or the sauce will scramble.
- Keep the sauce warm while you are waiting to serve it; it will sit quite happily like this for a couple of hours.
- Half-fill a saucepan with water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. While it is heating up, remove the woody ends from the asparagus spears by snapping off about 3–4cm (11/4–11/2in) of the bottom of the stalk. Discard the woody ends.
- Cook the asparagus by dropping it into the boiling water, cover and bring back up to the boil. Remove the lid and boil, uncovered, for another 4–7 minutes until just cooked. While the asparagus is cooking, toast the bread and butter it. Remove the asparagus and place on the buttered toast. Drizzle with some of the hollandaise sauce and serve the rest in a jug on the table.