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Recipe: warm salad of chargrilled asparagus

PUBLISHED: 13:29 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:29 21 May 2018

Asparagus

Asparagus

Archant

The chef patron and owner of Kent Life's Restaurant of the Year 2017, Chapter One, is celebrating the arrival of the king of vegetables

What makes British asparagus so special? For me it truly is the king of all vegetables and it’s why I’ve decided to dedicate this month’s column to this magnificent green gem.

I urge all readers to support our local British asparagus growers, the imports that are available in supermarkets all year round simply just don’t cut it. In my opinion there is no comparison taste wise, and it’s the reason why British asparagus season is such a highlight in the food calendar.

The imported asparagus just isn’t fresh enough and is likely to be a week old by the time you take it home from your local shop.

It’s such a versatile vegetable and pretty much goes with anything. I like mine served in classic style, chargrilled with poached eggs, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of rock sea salt. Nice and simple.

Or throw on a barbecue to accompany a piece of steak or fish. Steamed or boiled tastes good too, especially when tossed in a warm salad with flaked trout or salmon; I like to add chargrilled vine tomatoes – absolutely divine!

In short, cook asparagus in any way you prefer and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I’m planning to.

The British asparagus season is short, which makes it that extra special, and is only available from the end of April to June. At Chapter One, we use a fantastic Kentish supplier in Orpington, Watts Farm because their quality has always been consistent. Without fail, each year there’s real excitement in the kitchen among the chefs when our first delivery of asparagus arrives.

Recipe: warm salad of chargrilled asparagus (serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

350g cherry vine tomatoes (halved)

100ml olive oil

24x asparagus spears

2x courgettes

25g wild rocket

Sea salt and pepper

For the basil pesto

75 ml olive oil

½ clove garlic (chopped finely)

100g basil leaves

10g toasted pine nuts

1x anchovy filet

10g grated parmesan cheese

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

Method:

There is a fair amount to do in preparation for this salad but it can be done in advance.

To make the basil pesto, blanch the basil leaves in boiling salted water for three minutes, then refresh in cold water and drain off the leaves drying them on a cloth. Next, blend all of the ingredients together in a food blender, season and put into a container and refrigerate for up to one week or it can also be frozen

Pre-heat the oven to 120 degrees. Mix the tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, skin side down. Roast for about 1.5 to 2hours until they are semi dried but still moist. Remove from the oven and let them cool.

Trim the woody bases of the asparagus. Blanch in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. Refresh under cold water making sure they are completely cold before removing. Drain them off and dry them on a clean towel.

Next add a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and mix through the asparagus. Slice the courgettes thinly with a mandolin or kitchen knife. Mix the sliced courgette with a little olive oil salt and pepper.

Pre-heat a griddle pan making sure it is very hot. Grill the asparagus and courgettes, turning them over after about a minute. You want to get a good colour on both sides.

To assemble the salad, put the asparagus and courgettes in a large bowl and add the rocket and tomatoes. Add 2-3 spoons of pesto and then toss the salad carefully. Being careful not to break up the tomatoes and courgettes season with salt and pepper and arrange neatly in a bowl or on a plate.

__________

Find out more:

Chapter One

Farnsborough Common, Locksbottom BR6 8NF

Follow Andy on Twitter here

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