Asparagus with Parmesan and Balsamic Vinegar

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Daily Mail Modern British Cookbook

The Daily Mail Modern British Cookbook

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1998

  • About

English asparagus is the finest in the world and the first sweet, green spears of May are a seasonal joy, to be cooked simply and eaten with the minimum of saucing. All they need is a little melted butter or olive oil to shine. There is nothing better than local produce when it is in season and at its most delicious.

Select medium-sized, even bunches of asparagus with closed tips and a good green colour. After you have eaten your first few bunches plain boiled and buttered, you might like to try this Italian treatment. Only a few drops of balsamic vinegar are needed and this is the ideal moment to use that very special bottle of liquid gold from Modena, the very best barrel-aged vinegar your budget allows.


  • salt and pepper
  • 1 kg/ 2ΒΌ lb fresh green asparagus
  • 85 g/ 3 oz Reggiano
  • Parmigiano in a piece
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3Β½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

Undo the bunches of asparagus and lay them out on a chopping board, with their tips touching the same imaginary straight line. Trim off the woody bases to give an equal length of about 12.5 cm / 5 inches.

Drop the asparagus into the pan of boiling water, bring it back to the boil and cook for 2–4 minutes, tasting after 2 minutes. Precisely how long you give them depends on how thick the spears are and how al dente you like them.

Drain and serve immediately or refresh in cold water. You can then keep them refrigerated for up to 24 hours. If so, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds to reheat before serving.

Shave wafer-thin slices of the Parmesan with a potato peeler.

Divide the hot asparagus between 4 warmed plates, laying them in a single neat layer. Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then lay the shaved Parmesan on top. Finish with some black pepper and serve with a basket of sliced baguette.