I’m sharing this asparagus recipe from my cookbook Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet in support of Veg Power a campaign to help kids eat more veg. Our little one Lyra, loves all four of the key vegetables in this dish, asparagus, spring onions, corn (polenta) and olives. If you haven’t already click my cookbook cover and purchase your copy now.
Until I met my friend Brigida, I only ever cooked with the generic yellow corn husks you might find in your local supermarket. Brigida’s family grow a flavourful heirloom variety called ‘otto file,’ meaning eight rows. She proclaims how utterly delicious it is for making polenta, giving it a deep yellow colour and a satisfying, complex flavour. Conventional 16-row corn varieties have been bred for productivity and sweetness.
In the last 100 years, we’ve lost over 90% of seed diversity, with today’s farmers relying on just a small selection of hybrid, gene-edited and genetically modified seeds. Now 75% of the world’s food supply comes from just 12 plant species. And just three of them – maize, wheat and rice – provide 60% of the world’s food energy intake. This loss of diversity has left our food system vulnerable. There used to be 307 varieties of corn available commercially, now there are just 12. Seeking out, eating, growing and sharing different varieties of seed is one way we can help to protect biodiversity. Purchase ‘otto file’ polenta from delis. It’s hugely satisfying to do so and you will be helping out more than just your taste buds.