Buttered asparagus spears

This asparagus recipe is for buttered asparagus spears with pancetta.  This vegetable recipe shows how to cook asparagus spears, which can make a nice simple starter as well as a side dish.


Getting everything ready

  • Wash the asparagus well.  Hold each asparagus spear between your hands and bend it until it snaps in half.  Discard the thick, woody end or, better still, keep them for soups or stocks.
  • Carefully peel the remaining stalk thinly using a vegetable peeler.  Trim the base of each spear to make them all roughly the same length.
  • Pre-heat the grill to hot.


  1. Bring a pan of shallow water to the boil and add salt to taste.
  2. Carefully add the asparagus spears and simmer gently until the tips are just tender.  This will take about 4–5 minutes.  Remove the asparagus from the water and drain well.  Keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, place the pancetta rashers on a baking tray and place under the hot grill, turning over once.  Grill the pancetta until slightly crispy.  Remove from the grill.
  4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
  5. Neatly place the asparagus spears onto warmed plates.  Knap over the melted butter and add a twist or two of freshly milled black pepper.
  6. Using tongs, arrange two rasher of pancetta on top of each plate of asparagus.  Serve immediately.

Cooking asparagus spears – hints and tips

Asparagus has a short season.  Late April to June is when it is at its very best.  The older the asparagus becomes, the more woody it will be.  It is well worth waiting for that short season of asparagus at its very best, just like strawberries, Jersey Royal potatoes and runner beans.

Asparagus makes a lovely clean, simple starter.  Serve with a little hollandaise sauce.