BRITISH apsparagus is beginning to appear in the shops, so let’s make the most of it.

Of course you can buy imported asparagus all year round but our Great British variety is often deemed to be among the best and, for me, is unbeaten in terms of flavour.

Make the most of it though because the British asparagus season is brief; traditionally running from St George’s Day (April 23) until Midsummer’s Day on June 21.

The change in climate and growing conditions over the years has altered this date window slightly but you get the idea – grab it while you can!

Although a bit more pricey than standard British veg, the taste is more than worth it and we Brits certainly love our asparagus; we spend over £20million annually on home-grown asparagus.

Our wonderful vibrant asparagus is also packed full of healthy goodness including vitamins A and C as well as potassium, iron and calcium.

Be very careful not to over-cook it though, or you risk zapping all these nutrients as well as impairing the texture and flavour.

Buy and eat the freshest asparagus you can find, making sure the stems are firm and free of any discolouration.

Needless to say, the fresher the produce the better the flavour so don’t compromise on this.

One of my favourite ways to eat asparagus is simply steamed and topped with a little butter or some shavings of Parmesan cheese. A drizzle of Hollandaise is also a tasty option.

Pairing asparagus with something salty really lifts the flavour so this recipe, served with little parcels of mozzarella and Parma ham, is a real winner.

This is a great dish for a summer garden party, picnic or dinner party starter. Serve with a few dressed leaves.

Asparagus with Parma Ham and Mozzarella

(serves 2-4)

8 slices Parma ham

2 balls of mozzarella

1 bunch asparagus (approx. 8-10 spears)

1 bag of rocket

1 punnet of cherry tomatoes

A few sprigs of basil

Olive oil

Black pepper

Parmesan (as desired)

Gently wash the asparagus and trim the lower part of the stalks if needed. Blanch in boiling, salted water for three minutes. Remove from the pain and drain.

In a bowl, toss the tomatoes, rocket and basil together with a little olive oil and black pepper. Arrange on a serving platter or divide between each plate.

Roughly divide each mozzarella ball into four and wrap each piece in a slice of Parma ham.

Pan-fry over a medium heat for two minutes and once the ham begins to colour and crisp, add the asparagus to the pan to heat for a further minute or two.

Remove from the heat and arrange alongside the salad on each plate.

Shave a little parmesan over the top if desired and enjoy.