I love following the fruit and vegetable seasons every year, particularly as we transition from spring to summer and on into autumn, when the majority of our native produce thrives.

As one ingredient disappears, there’s always another just

coming into its prime. And, as the last of the wild garlic recedes for another year, it can mean only one thing, that the all-too-brief British asparagus season is upon us.

But what a season; for the short time between the end of April (traditionally St George’s Day) and sometime in June, our shelves are piled high with those delightful emerald spears.

For we asparagus lovers, there’s little better to do with them than steam the spears gently until the tip of a knife just makes it through the thickest part, and serving them with something sympathetic, sauce-wise.

Asparagus, on cutting board

Nothing too extreme; melted butter or a light Hollandaise is all that’s really required to lift the dish. Maybe a little black pepper or a mild herb such as tarragon.

However, asparagus does also blend in well with stronger flavours, and harsher cooking techniques can also add new dimensions in flavour. It can be roasted or even chargrilled, adding smokiness and a crunch to the very tips. Handy for barbecue season.

It can be wrapped in Parma ham or other cured meats, and it can make all sorts of soups and sauces, adding that familiar fresh and aromatic flavour to whatever it touches.

This week’s recipe treads the fine line between the pure flavours of barely-cooked asparagus and the spicier, more piquant tones of hummus, that ambrosial dip from the Levant.

Stick a bowl of hummus, rich with garlic and tahini, in front of me, with some griddled flatbreads, and I’m a very happy man.

READ MORE: Stephen Jackson: Asparagus Hummus with grilled Pita Bread

So this recipe, my version of a recipe I’d seen using fresh broad beans in (worth trying also) is a terrific and new alternative.

I’ve added my flatbread recipe, as it’s a doddle, and the herby, buttery bread is heavenly with the hummus.

A little crumbly feta cheese and sharp, citrussy sumac powder add the final grace notes. It’s one recipe where I’m happy to chop these glorious asparagus spears into pieces and pulverise them.

I’d normally consider such brutal treatment to be an arrestable offence, but when you taste this smooth, tasty hummus you’ll agree the vegetable violence is entirely justified. And this recipe arrives just in time, as the Western world finds itself in the grip of a hummus shortage.

Fortunately, the ingredients are readily available still, and so I urge you to have a go at making your own. It’s so super-fresh, and a wonderful way of making the best of the fleeting asparagus season.

Serves 4

For the hummus:

200g fresh British asparagus

400g (drained weight) tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons tahini

juice of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons chilled vegetable stock or water

Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper

For the flatbreads:

500g strong flour

2tsp fine salt

1 tbsp unrefined golden caster sugar

1 tbsp dried active yeast

350ml water, lukewarm

2 tbsps olive oil

2 tablespoons of roughly-chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, chervil, parsley, mint)

150g butter, melted


Sumac powder

100g feta cheese, crumbled


First, let’s make the hummus; carefully remove the greyish outer husk from the chickpeas. It’s a tedious task, but it really helps the flavour and minimises the, ahem, ‘gastro-musical’ effects of the pulses. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to thwe boil. Trim the asparagus of any woody bases, and cut the stalks into 2cm pieces.

Plunge the asparagus into the boiling water and cook for a minute or so,until just tender, then drain and tip into a large bowl of iced water.

Drain and dry the pieces on a clean tea towel.

In a food processor, pulse the cooked asparagus, chickpeas, garlic, tahini and lemon juice along with the olive oil in a slow drizzle, and some stock if you feel the thickness makes this necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Scoop into a suitable container, cover the surface with clingfilm and chill until required.

Now to make the flatbreads; put the water, yeast, sugar and olive oil in a bowl and stir. Leave for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to become frothy.

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, and stir in the yeast liquid,

bringing the mixture together into a soft dough. If it’s too wet, add more flour. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead briskly for 10 minutes. Pop into a large oiled bowl, and cover with oiled clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size. Tip out of the bowl and knock the dough back, then divide into 8 even-sized pieces.

Roll each piece out into a neat disc about 5mm thick. Take a fork, and lightly press the points all over each flatbread, making sure you don’t prick all the way through the dough.

Leave the flatbreads for 10-15 minutes. Then, heat a thin frying pan and brush very lightly with oil or clarified butter. Fry each flatbread for 2-3 minutes each side, making sure they brown well and burn slightly in places, then remove from the pan and keep warm as you process all 8. Keep warm until required.

To serve, brush each flatbread all over with melted butter and sprinkle over some of the chopped herbs. Spoon the hummus into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and drizzle in the rest of the oil. Sprinkle over the sumac and crumble over the feta cheese.