Domini Kemp: Last taste of summer
There’s still time to let in the sunny flavours of cheeky dill and elegant asparagus
Asparagus with creamy eggs and dill. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Yes, it really wasn’t a great summer weather wise, but even if the heavens opened on a regular basis, the evenings were long and bright(ish) enough to remind us that summery foods still deserved pole position at the table.
And although the schools are back (yay!) and the holidays over (booo!), I think there’s still time enough to pay due homage to some of the stars of spring/summer mealtimes before we give in to the primal autumnal urges for stews and hotpots and all things rib-sticking and comforting.
So, topping the menu this week is asparagus – those slim, bright green spears with their thrusting little crowns, which taste so wonderful when accompanied by eggs in almost any form. A poached egg is the classic partner, but in this recipe I opted for the rich creaminess of scrambled eggs, lightly cooked in butter.
Soft, yielding eggs and just-cooked fresh asparagus. So far, so good. But where would summer food be without the zing and bite of fresh herbs? Now, I am no gardener – just ask my husband, who despairs at the gone-to-seed rocket and wildly out of control kale that is now threatening, triffid-like (look it up - it’s a goodie), to take over our backyard space. But herbs . . . yes, herbs I can just about manage.
Our garden is home to oregano, rosemary (unfailingly productive), chives, sage, and parsley. I’ve tried the more exotic ones, like basil, but my fingers just ain’t green enough, I’m afraid, so I buy it instead. Another one I have to buy is dill. Apart from the fact I can’t grow it well, when a recipe calls for dill, there really is no alternative; dill it must be.
Now, dill and eggs are another classic combo, but this recipe for a dill sauce to blob on top of that oh-so-refined asparagus and eggs is the Eliza Doolittle to that regal vegetable’s snooty Henry Higgins. It positively quivers with attitude, this little sauce. With its aniseed notes, the dill plays a starring role, but the capers and olives make it downright saucy, and they certainly ratchet things up a notch or two on the flavour front.
It’s also fab slathered over roast chicken and fish. Just thinking about it now is making me hungry for some of it smeared on little croutes and a glass of rosé. See? Still hankering for that lost summer.