Someone who has never experienced food poverty and has no idea who the City Harvest family are, and what an amazing organisation it has become in just four years, asked, 'But would the people who are given a tray of asparagus know what to do with it?'
Just minutes from the Caterers Entrance at Chelsea, City Harvest have a regular connection with One Big Family a community project based on a large, run down council housing estate, which is due to be pulled down within two years. OBF is miraculously run by Mike, one of the residents, and some of his neighbours. It's not official, it's not something the wealthy residents next door will necessarily know exists, but it's a life saver. The sandwiches were delivered on the way back to Acton, eggs, milk, chicken, prawns, salads, vegetable, fruit, paper ware, went into the fridges and larders Mike has organised, ready for a summer party for the residents. Another donation of sandwiches, which were too many for One Big Family, ended up feeding many homeless Londoners on Victoria Embankment when Mike and other volunteers took it upon themselves to go out and distribute them when we had left.
And yes, they do all know how to use asparagus in their meals.
For anyone that might need some top tips for preparing asparagus, Sodexo's Ian Page has provided us with the following recipes:
British asparagus and spinach soup topped with chive crème fraiche
12 stems of asparagus stems removed and finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
50g of unsalted butter
1 medium white onion diced
1 clove of garlic crushed
800ml of vegetable stock
100g of spinach
4 tbsp of crème fraiche (1 tbsp per soup portion)
2 tbsp of freshly chopped chives
Prepare the asparagus by removing the hard stems (keep four of the asparagus heads for garnishing the soup) then finely chop the rest.
Place a saucepan on the heat, add a little olive oil and the butter, then add the diced onion and garlic sweat for 5 minutes on a low heat.
Now add the chopped asparagus and continue to sweat for another couple of minutes, add the vegetable stock bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add your spinach to the soup and simmer for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and put into a blender and blitz in batches.
Once the soups blended put through a sieve to remove any lumps, mix your crème fraiche with the chopped chives and a touch of salt and pepper to taste.
To serve pour your hot soup into the bowl, place a spoonful of the chive crème fraiche on top of the soup and the asparagus head on top of the crème fraiche.
Thai Green Chicken & Asparagus Curry with Steamed Rice
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
700g chicken breast fillets, cut into 2cm cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lemongrass stem, outer leaves removed, quartered lengthways
4 tablespoons green curry paste
300ml coconut milk
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
2 tablespoons green peppercorns, drained
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 bunches English asparagus, woody ends trimmed, halved
Fish sauce, to season
Coriander leaves, steamed rice
1 Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Stir-fry chicken, in batches, until golden all over. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
2 Return the wok to the heat. Add onion, garlic and lemongrass, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for a further minute. Return the chicken to the wok and add the coconut milk, stock, peppercorns and kaffir lime leaves, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for a further 2 minutes or until bright green. Season to taste with fish sauce.
3 Serve curry, garnished with coriander, with steamed rice
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