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What’s cooking today: Asparagus spears with rosemary-...



What’s cooking today: Asparagus spears with rosemary-infused Parmesan butter cream

Tony Jackman’s asparagus spears with rosemary-infused Parmesan butter cream, served on a starter plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

The rich tang of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a subtle infusion of fresh rosemary work their charms on this quick and easy asparagus starter.

I find it hard to believe now that when I started cooking seriously all those years ago, I found the idea of blanching asparagus daunting. Yet it’s so easy,  if you obey the simple yet clear rules: cook gently, for less time rather than more, while avoiding violent boiling.

Before this, there’s the easy trick of snapping off the hard, stalky ends of the spears, and remembering to peel away the little scales. The rest (after blanching and refreshing) only involves whatever sauce you might be serving them with, though you can of course just plate them up with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan and a grinding of black pepper.

That’s how I often do them but this time I decided to infuse butter and cream with a sprig of rosemary and grate Parmigiano-Reggiano into it.

Asparagus is a spring vegetable but these days it is often available out of season, just as many other vegetables and fruit are. These (from Woolworths) were from Mexico.

(Serves 2)


4 or 5 asparagus spears per portion

1 rosemary sprig

3 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3 Tbsp cream

Black pepper

No salt (the cheese is salty enough)


Snap off the ends of the spears (they will snap at the right point) and discard the end parts. Scrape off the little triangular scales (which are actually leaves). Bring water to the boil in a pot, turn down to a simmer, and plunge the spears in.

They need to simmer for barely minutes, nice and low, then slide them into a colander over the sink and immediately run cold water through them, over your hand. By this I mean placing your hand between the running water and the asparagus to disperse the water so that it runs over them gently. If hard running water hits the spears it risks disintegrating them, especially if you have overcooked them; another reason not to do that.

Melt the butter gently with the rosemary sprig and cream and let it stand for 5 minutes for the rosemary to infuse. Remove the sprig. Grate the Parmesan into the rosemary butter.

Arrange the spears on plates. Spoon the rosemary Parmesan cream over the spears and grate Parmigiano-Reggiano or other Parmesan style cheese over as well as freshly ground black pepper. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing. 


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