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Posts Tagged ‘Asparagus’

There should be some good value asparagus around by now and this is a very tasty way with sweet potatoes.

Roasted sesame sweet potatoes & asparagus – serves 3 as a side

  • 750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1½ tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • a bunch of asparagus, snap off the ends and cut in half
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Put the potatoes into a large roasting tin and toss with the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, fish sauce and 1 tbsp of the soy sauce. Roast for 20 minuts or until tender.

Add the asparagus, 3 tbsp of water and ½ tbsp of soy sauce. Roast for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over and serve.

(Original ricpe from BBC Good Food)

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We definitely have a bit of a thing for Asian-style greens and rice. And while it may seem like you need another dish on the side, you really don’t, it’s just a bowl of healthy, delicious things. Having said that, this would also be great on the side of some white fish.

Wine Suggestion: Anthony Girard’s La Clef du Recit Menetou Salon is a star here. A Sauvignon Blanc grown on Kimmergian clay-limestone, this has a depth, texture and body that belies the grape a little and a wine that we think gets better with a few years in the bottle … if you can wait that long. Don’t worry if you can’t though, it’s delicious from release too.

Asparagus with ginger & garlic – serves 2

  • 12-16 spears of asparagus, snap off the woody ends and slice on the diagonal into 4cm pieces
  • 2-3cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into very fine matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 80ml water
  • 1 ½ tbsp oyster sauce
  • cooked rice, to serve

Put your wok over a medium-low heat and add the sunflower oil. When warm, add the ginger and cook briefly until fragrant.

Add the asparagus, garlic and chilli and toss, then pour in the water and turn the heat to high. Cook for a minute, then add the oyster sauce. Toss well to coat the asparagus and cook for about 30 seconds or until tender but with a bite.

Remove from the heat and season with some black pepper, you shouldn’t need salt.

Serve hot over rice.

(Original recipe from My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell, Quadrille Publishing, 2008.)

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It just wouldn’t be spring without asparagus soup would it? Though the weather is far from spring-like in Dublin. This is from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, though I suspect Simon may not approve of our half-whizzed texture. You can of course whizz until smooth and pass through a fine sieve if you’re equally fussy.

Asparagus soup – serves 4

  • 100g butter
  • 4 small leeks, white parts only, trimmed and chopped
  • 750ml water
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 450g fresh asparagus, snap off the woody ends and peel the thicker ends a little
  • 250ml double cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then sweat the leeks until soft.

Add the water and potato, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 15 minutes.

Chop the asparagus and add to the soup, then boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

Whizz the soup in a blender or food processor, then pass through a fine sieve (or if you’re lazy like us you can just roughly whizz with a stick blender).

(Original recipe from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, Ebury Press, 1994.)

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This is simplicity itself but tastes just like the season.

Wine Suggestion: Pick a good, top-notch, dry Sauvignon Blanc to match this dish like the André Dezat Sancerre which is flinty, grassy-fresh and has great concentration and power despite being super balanced and effortless.

Gnocchi with asparagus, edamame & Parmesan – serves 4

  • 500g pack of gnocchi
  • good extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g asparagus, snap off the woody part of the stems, then cut into 5cm pieces
  • 150g frozen edamame beans
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 lemon, for squeezing over at the end
  • 60g Parmesan, grated

Bring a large pot of salty water to the boil, then add the gnocchi and cook according the pack instructions. It’s done when if floats to the top. Drain and refresh under cold running water.

Heat a large fraying pan over a medium-high heat, then drizzle with oil, and when hot, add the asparagus with a pinch of sea salt. Fry for a few minutes or until the pieces are starting to char but are still crisp. Remove from the pan and put into a warmed dish.

Add the frozen edamame beans to pan with a splash of water and a pinch of sea salt. Cook for 2 minutes, then scoop ot and add to the asparagus.

Drizzle some more oil into the pan and warm over a medium-high heat, then add the gnocchi. Fry until golden and crispy. Don’t be tempted to turn them too quickly or they will stick. Remove from the pan and into a large dish.

Combine the gnocchi with the asparagus, edamame, and chives. Squeeze over some lemon juice to taste and drizzle with olive oil, then season with sea salt and black pepper. Scatter over the Parmesan to serve.

(Original recipe from Family by Hetty McKinnon, Prestel, 2019)

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We’re getting very impatient for spring veg. Ideally this would be made with locally grown asparagus and freshly podded peas and broad beans. In reality we had to settle for purple sprouting broccoli and frozen peas and beans. Still a delicious spring dish. This makes enough to serve 6 for lunch or a generous side dish. Cook the veg at the last minute if you can as it nice served slightly warm. 

Spring Panzanella – serves 6

  • 350g ciabatta, torn into bite-size chunks
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil,
  • 300g fresh pea or frozen peas
  • 300g fresh broad beans (podded weight) or use frozen broad beans
  • 400g asparagus, trimmed (we used purple sprouting broccoli)
  • leaves from a large bunch of basil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 35ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (ideally white balsamic)
  • 75g Pecorino or Parmesan, shaved

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Toss the bread in a roasting tin with the shallot, seasoning and oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.

Cook the peas and broad beans in salted boiling water in separate pans, then drain. Slip the skins from the broad beans. 

Meanwhile, cook the asparagus in salted water for 3-4 minute or until tender. Drain in a sieve and refresh briefly under cold water, just long enough to stop cooking but not cool down completely. 

Put the crunchy bread into a large, shallow bowl. Add the asparagus, peas, broad beans, basil & garlic. Season well. Pour on the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add the cheese. Toss gently and serve.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2012.)

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Don’t wear a white shirt when eating this as lots of slurping is needed. A dish full of herbs, spring veg and a fresh spicy sauce, perfect on a cool Spring evening.

Wine Suggestion: This dish demands a good, dry Riesling like the superlative ones made by Martin & Britta Korrell in the Nahe, Germany. For tonight the “Slice of Paradise” Riesling, a less philosophical, more playful baby brother of their signature Paradies vineyard wine, but none the less for this; a taste of Spring in the glass too.

Laksa with Spring Vegetables & Rice Noodles – serves 4

  • 30g tamarind paste with seeds (it comes in a block)
  • 1-2 red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger or galangal
  • ½ a bunch of scallions, sliced, keep the white parts and the green parts separate
  • a small bunch of coriander, leaves and stalks separated
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 400g mixed spring vegetables e.g. PSB, peas, green beans, mangetout, asparagus, spinach, radishes or baby carrots
  • 200g dried rice noodles, cooked according to the instructions on the pack
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce, or more if you like
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • a small bunch of mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped, to serve

Bring a pan of salty water to the boil.

Meanwhile, put the tamarind into a small bowl and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Mash well with a fork to get a purée then push the tamarind through a sieve. Discard the seeds that are left behind.

Blend the chillies, garlic, ginger, white parts of the scallions, coriander stalks and lemongrass with the turmeric and cumin to make a thick paste. The small bowl of the food processor is good for this, you might need to add a little water to help it come together.

To make the broth, fry the spicy paste in the sunflower oil for 2 to 3 minutes over a medium heat, until it starts to stick to the pan. Add the tamarind purée, stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, boil the vegetables in the pan of salty water until just tender – 3 minutes should do it, then drain and divide between 4 deep bowls along with the prepared noodles.

Add the fish sauce and sugar to the sauce, taste and add more if needed. Pour the hot broth over the noodles and veg and garnish with the mint, coriander leaves and green scallions. You can add a bit of sliced chilli too if you like.

(Original recipe from Home Cookery Year by Claire Thomson, Quadrille, 2020.)

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Daffodils, warmer weather (occasionally … ), longer days, and spring vegetables arriving in the shops. Things are definitely looking up, at least in our kitchen if nowhere else.

Wine Suggestion: The asparagus cried out for the Höpler Grüner Veltliner lurking in the fridge waiting for spring to arrive. GV is one of the few varieties to work with asparagus and this dish isn’t shy of their flavours so a good match. Crisp pear and zesty lemon flavours overlay the hints of characteristic white pepper umami savouriness; this is so clean and vibrant it shouts the beginning of the season.

Asparagus, wild garlic & Gorgonzola risotto – serves 3

  • a bunch of asparagus, snap off and discard the woody ends
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock
  • 40g butter and 25g of cold diced butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 250g superfino carnaroli rice
  • 60ml dry white wine
  • 40g Parmesan, grated
  • 60g Gorgonzola
  • a small handful of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped

Remove the tips from the asparagus and chop the stems into 3cm pieces.

Blanch the tips in a pan of salty boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Bring the stock the boil, then turn down and keep it at a bare simmer.

Melt 40g butter in a heavy-based pan, add the onion and asparagus stalks, then cook gently until the onion is soft and translucent, but not coloured.

Turn the heat up a little and add the rice. Stir for a couple of minutes until warm and coated with the butter and onion.

Add the wine and allow it to bubble up and almost disappear, then start adding the stock a ladle at a time. Keep stirring and only add more stock when the previous ladleful has been absorbed. Start tasting the rice after about 15 minutes, you want it to be soft but still with a little bite in the centre.

Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the cold butter, Parmesan, 20g of the Gorgonzola and the wild garlic. Season to taste, then ladle into warm bowls and garnish with the asparagus tips and the rest of the Gorgonzola.

(Original recipe from Made at Home by Giorgio Locatelli, 4th Estate, 2017.)

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Risotto Primavera

This risotto isn’t laden with cheese and butter like so many other recipes and so a good option for a weeknight and full of Spring flavours. We left out the chives and rocket as we didn’t have them but we’ve kept them in the recipe as they would make nice additions.

Wine Suggestion: this was delightful with a young white Muscadet from Domaine de la Chauviniere, but we can see it working with youthful Sauvignon Blanc or Grüner Veltliner as well.

Risotto Primavera – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 350g asparagus, snap of the woody ends and cut into 5cm lengths on the diagonal
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 175g frozen peas
  • 250g frozen broad beans
  • 2 tbsp shredded basil
  • 2 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1.7 litres vegetable stock (we used Marigold vegetable bouillon)
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300g carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 25g Parmesan, grated
  • 25g rocket leaves, to garnish

Heat half the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Stir-fry the asparagus over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes or until browned all over. Add the scallions and fry for another minute or two until browned. Remove these with a slotted spoon, season with pepper, and set aside.

Cook the peas and broad beans in separate pans of boiling water for a few minutes, then drain. Pop the broad beans out of their skins and set both aside.

Mix the basil, chives, mint and lemon zest together in a small bowl and season with pepper.

Pour the stock into a saucepan and keep over a very low heat.

Pour the rest of the oil into the pan that you used to cook the asparagus. Add the shallots and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or two over a medium-high heat or until it starts to sizzle.

Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed. Now start gradually adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more. Keep adding stock for about 20 minutes or until the rice is al dente. Season with pepper.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add an extra ladle of stock, then scatter over the vegetables, some pepper, half the herb & lemon mixture and half the cheese. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for a few minutes. Gently stir to combine, then serve in warmed bowls some rocket and the rest of the herbs and cheese sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Asparagus soup

Asparagus has arrived in a bit of a glut and has suddenly became very cheap. This needs plenty so a bit of a luxury at the start of the season when prices are high. A lovely lunch two days in a row and still some left in the freezer. The recipe is by Jamie Oliver and he recommends serving with toasted ciabatta and poached eggs.

If you have a stand blender you’ll be able to get this smoother, but it tastes just as nice blended with a stick blender like we did.

Creamy Asparagus Soup – serves 8

  • 800g asparagus, snap off the woody ends and discard, chop the pretty tips off and set aside, roughly chop the stalks
  • 2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 litres of good-quality chicken or veg stock

Heat a couple of tbsp of olive oil in a large pan. Gently fry the onions, celery and leeks for about 10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. Add the chopped asparagus stalks and the stock, then simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on.

Remove from the heat and whizz with your choice of implement. Season generously, then return the pan to the heat and stir in the reserved asparagus tips. Simmer for a few minutes or until the tips have softened.

We had some crème fraîche in the fridge and served with a spoon on top but it’s also nice without.

(Original recipe from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2007.)

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Spicy Asparagus & Chorizo Baked Egg

We had this for breakfast on Easter Sunday but you could also have it for a handy lunch or dinner.

Spicy asparagus & chorizo baked egg – serves 2

  • 250g asparagus, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 40g diced chorizo
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 150g frozen spinach
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 2 large eggs
  • flatbreads or toast, to serve

Heat a medium frying pan over a medium heat, add the asparagus and chorizo and cook for about 8 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook for a further minute.

Add the frozen spinach and cook for about 5 minutes or until it has completely wilted. Stir in the crème fraîche and season with salt and pepper.

Make two space in the mixture for the eggs and gently slide them in. We find it easier to break them into mugs first. Cover the pan with a lid and leave for 5 minutes or until just set.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Roasted Asparagus with Almonds, Capers & Dill

We thought you couldn’t beat buttered asparagus until Yotam Ottolenghi suggested almonds, capers & dill, a fabulous combination!

Roasted asparagus with almonds, capers & dill – serves 4 as a side dish

  • 600g asparagus, snap off the woody ends
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 20g flaked almonds
  • 30g baby capers, patted dry with kitchen towel
  • 10g dill, roughly chopped
  • salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan.

Toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp of the oil and some salt and black pepper. Spread over a large parchment-lined baking tray and roast for 8 to 12 minutes depending on thickness, until soft and starting to brown in spots. Transfer to a large serving plate and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the almonds and fry for a minute or two, stirring, until golden-brown. Pour the almonds and butter over the asparagus.

Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the saucepan and place over a high heat. Once hot, add the capers and fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring all the time, until they have opened up and turned crispy. Remove the capers with a slotted spoon and scatter over the asparagus along with the dill (discard the oil). Serve warm.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi with Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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Asparagus Carbonara

Classic carbonara is in no way sullied by the addition of asparagus and in our house at the moment it’s asparagus with everything!!

Wine Suggestion: A difficult decision given the awkwardness of asparagus and wine, plus the creamy richness of the sauce. We settled on the delightful Chateau les Charmes Godard, a Sauvignon (Blanc & Gris) and Semillon blend from Bordeaux and were reminded why we love whites from this region, especially with food.

Asparagus Carbonara – serves 4

  • 200g pancetta or streaky bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 350g pasta
  • 2 bunches of thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • a large handful of grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the pancetta and fry for about 5 minutes, or until turning crispy.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salty water to the boil. Boil the pasta until al dente, then drain and reserve some of the pasta cooking water.

Add the asparagus and garlic to the pan with the bacon. Season with lots of black pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked (it will take a bit longer if your asparagus is thick).

Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk with the Parmesan and a splash of the cooking water.

Add the cooked pasta to the asparagus pan, then remove from the heat and stir in the egg mixture to combine. Add another splash of cooking water if needed to make a sauce.

Serve right away with extra Parmesan.

(Original recipe from New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson, Quadrille, 2019.)

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Risotto Primavera

Do it now when there is lots of asparagus in the shops! If you have peas and broad beans growing you should of course use these rather than our frozen substitutes.

Wine Suggestion: we had opened a delightful Touraine Sauvignon Blanc from Domaine Octavie which not only matched the food, it also matched the sunshine with us this evening.

Risotto Primavera – serves 4

  • 200g frozen broad beans
  • 4 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 250g asparagus, woody ends snapped off and chopped into 4 pieces
  • 1.3 litres of good chicken or vegetable stock – homemade if you have it
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 85g butter
  • 350g Carnaroli or other risotto rice
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 140g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated

Tip the broad beans into boiling water and simmer for 1 minute, then drain and remove the skins.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy, wide pan. Add the shallots, scallions & garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent but not browned.

Keep the heat at medium and add the rice to the pan and stir for a few minutes so it gets toasted and very hot. When it starts to hiss, pour in the wine and stir for another minute or so until the wine has evaporated.

Set a timer for 20 minutes, then start adding the stock starting with a ladle and a half. It should be gently simmering and you need to stir continuously until the liquid had been absorbed. Keep adding the stock a ladleful at a time and allowing it to be absorbed before adding another.

After 14 minutes, add the beans and peas to the rice with some seasoning. Meanwhile, add the asparagus pieces to the simmering stock and cook for 4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and add to the rice. Start tasting the rice to check if it is done – you’re looking for soft rice with a little bite. Keep adding stock until cooked, then take the pan off the heat and add half the Parmesan and the remaining butter along with another splash of stock. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for a few minutes.

Serve with the rest of the Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Chicken & Morel Pie

We were so happy when we found a little jar of dried morels, until we got to the counter and realised they cost €25. We almost put them back only we had our hearts set on cooking this pie for dinner. We think they were worth it, but we’ll be better prepared for a shock at the till next time. It turns out morels are far from easy to come by and must be hand foraged and hence the princely sum. The fresh ones can be used for this dish too (though good luck finding them!) but you miss out on the nice mushroom stock from soaking the dried ones. If you see either sort and you’re feeling flush, we recommend trying them.

Wine Suggestion: We think this goes well with earthier reds like Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo especially if they have a little age and development.

Chicken, morel mushroom & asparagus one-pan pie – serves 4 to 5

  • 30g dried morels (or 100g fresh morels thoroughly cleaned)
  • 200ml chicken stock (you only need this if you have fresh morels)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100ml dry sherry or white wine
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
  • bunch of asparagus, snap off and discard the woody ends, then cut into 4cm pieces
  • half a pack of tarragon, leaves roughly chopped
  • 375g block of puff pastry (preferably all-butter)
  • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze

If you are using dried mushrooms put them into a bowl and cover with boiling water, then leave to soak for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and cut in half (keep the liquid and make it up to 200ml with some more water if necessary). You can set a couple of the nicest looking morels aside to decorate the top of the pie if you like.

Heat half the butter in a frying pan and fry the morels for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the rest of the butter and cook the shallots gently in the pan with the thyme and bay. When the shallots have softened, stir in the flour and cook for a minute or until a paste forms.

Pour in the sherry or wine and sizzle, then stir in the mushroom liquid (leave any grit in the bowl) or chicken stock, followed by the crème fraîche. Season well and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chicken and poach in the sauce for 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove and discard the bay leaves, stir in the asparagus, tarragon and fried morels, then remove from the heat and transfer into a pie dish.

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8.

Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface to the thickness of a euro coin, then cut to fit the dish, and drape it over the pie mixture (a rolling pin helps with this). Liberally brush with egg, season the pastry with flaky sea salt, and arrange the reserved morels on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Asparagus & Prosciutto soup

Another favourite from the River Café where the prosciutto gives a big addition to the flavour. Serve with a few asparagus tips and top quality olive oil on top. Delicious!

Wine suggestion: Sauvignon Blanc with bags of  flavour. Something like the Dog Point from New Zealand or the Dezat Sancerre from the Loire will work great. Going slightly off-piste we love the Domaine Bellier Cheverny Blanc which combines 85% Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay in a un-sung appellation from the Loire, a really good food wine.

Asparagus & prosciutto soup – serves 4

  • 500g asparagus
  • 140g prosciutto slices, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 140g spinach
  • Marigold Swiss bouillon powder dissolved with 750ml of boiling water
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut the remaining stalks into short lengths. Keep the tips to one side.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy-based pan, add the onion and soften for 5 minutes, then add the prosciutto, potatoes, parsley and asparagus stalks. Season with pepper (hold off on the salt until the end as the ham is salty) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, then add the bouillon and simmer until the potatoes and asparagus are tender – about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and most of the asparagus tips and cook for a another few minutes. Remove from the heat and blend to a rough purée.

Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and fry the reserved tips for a few seconds. Serve the soup with the asparagus and oil drizzled over each bowl.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

 

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Pasta Primavera

This was tasty. We were a bit concerned about the boiled onion at first but it gives a nice onion flavour without any fried taste which isn’t required here with the light creamy sauce. Good for a weeknight or weekend lunch.

Pasta Primavera – serves 4-6

  • 1 red pepper, halved and deseeded
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 225g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2.5cm lengths
  • 100g sugarsnap peas, sliced in half lengthways
  • 300g dried penne
  • 100ml double cream
  • 60g Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 25g toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp torn fresh basil leaves

Put the pepper halves under a hot grill, skin side up, for around 10 minutes or until the skin is completely charred. Seal in a plastic bag and leave to cool, then peel and discard the skin. Slice the flesh into large pieces.

Cook the chopped onion in a pan of salted boiling water for 9 minutes, then add the asparagus. Cook for another minute before adding the sugarsnaps and continue to boil for another 2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.

Cook the penne in a large pan of salted boiling water for the recommended time on the pack, then return to the pan with the cooled vegetables. Add the roasted pepper, cream and cheese and stir over a gentle heat to warm through. Season well with sea salt and black pepper.

Squeeze over the lemon and scatter over the pine nuts and basil to serve.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Cookery Course, DK, 2013.)

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Warm asparagus & new potato salad

We made this back in June when local asparagus was available, but have been very lax getting posts up on the blog (must do better!). We really enjoyed the combination here and  the addition of our own, home-grown mint, dill and chives really made the dish sing.

Warm Asparagus & New Potato Salad – serves 4

  • 350g small Jersey potatoes, scrubbed or peeled if you prefer
  • salt
  • 2 large mint sprigs
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 250g asparagus tips
  • hearts of 2 round lettuces, leaves separated, washed and dried
  • Maldon salt
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
  • handful of chervil sprigs – we used dill

FOR THE BUTTER SAUCE: 

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of caster sugar
  • 75g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp snipped chives

Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water, with the mint, until tender. Drain over a bowl and reserve the cooking water. Return the potatoes to the pan with the butter, stir together and keep warm.

For the sauce, use a large shallow stainless steel or enamel saucepan and squeeze in the lemon juice. Add 6 tbsp of the potato cooking water and the sugar, then simmer until reduced by half. Slowly incorporate the butter, a chunk at a time, whisking over a very low heat until homogenous (you’re aiming for a light butter sauce). Season with white pepper and keep warm.

Peel the asparagus tips from just below the bud and slice in half lengthways. Add to a pan of boiling well-salted water and boil for about 1-2 minutes – you want them just tender but not raw, then drain.

Slice the warm potatoes and add them, along with the asparagus, to the butter sauce. Turn gently with the chives, until everything is nicely coated.

Arrange the lettuce on 4 plates and divide the asparagus and potatoes between them. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and grate over the egg. Generously scatter with the chervil or dill.

(Original recipe from The Vegetarian Option by Simon Hopkinson, Quadrille, 2009.)

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Rosemary roast chicken thighs, asparagus & new potatoes

A weeknight treat to celebrate the new season’s bounty.

Wine Suggestion: We had a glass of the Domaine St Denis Macon-Lugny, a superb chardonnay from the Mâconnais in Burgundy and from the only grower-winemaker in this village (the rest goes to the co-op). Excellent flavours and a nutty depth marry well with the fresh, new season flavours and roasted chicken; a good choice.

Rosemary Roast Chicken Thighs with Asparagus & New Potatoes – serves 4

  • 750g small new potatoes, halved
  • 2 large bunches of asparagus, discard the woody ends
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves separated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • small handful of rosemary sprigs
  • 8 chicken thighs

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Put the potatoes, asparagus, garlic cloves and olive oil into a large roasting tray and season well. Squeeze over the juice from the lemon halves, then cut into chunks and add to the tray. Toss together well, cover with foil and roast for about 15 minutes.

Remove the foil and stir through the rosemary.

Season the chicken thighs and arrange in the dish in a single layer.

Now roast for 30-50 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is crisp and cooked through (this will depend on the size of your potatoes and chicken thighs).

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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We have been waiting for asparagus season to start and this dish seemed an appropriate celebration. Basque inspiration but completely at home in Ireland with every ingredient in season and locally sourced which we are passionately in favour of.

This recipe uses the tips of asparagus but we suggest buying the whole thing and cutting the tips off at home (instead of the pre pack tips). The remaining asparagus stalks are great steamed or blanched the next day for breakfast with a nice boiled or poached egg 🙂

Merluza a la koxkera – serves 4

  • 4 x 175-200g pieces of skinned hake fillet, 2 – 2.5cm thick
  • 200g asparagus tips (8cm long)
  • 250g peas
  • plain flour for dusting + 1 tbsp for the sauce
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 100g shallot, finely chopped
  • 175ml dry white wine
  • 100ml fish stock
  • 250g small clams (or a few extra of your pot will fit them)
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Season both sides of the hake pieces generously with salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile drop the asparagus tips into a pan of boiling, salted water and cook for 2 minutes. Add the peas and when it reaches the boil again drain and refresh under cold water. Leave to drain.

Pat hake pieces to remove excess moisture and then dust with flour and shake off any excess. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium-high heat in a large frying pan (big enough to fit your 4 hake pieces). Add hake and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown on outside, but not quite cooked through. Lift out onto a plate and set aside.

Wipe frying pan clean and add 2 tablespoons of oil, the garlic and shallots. Fry over a medium heat for 3 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden. Stir in the 1 tablespoon of flour and then gradually stir in the wine and stock to make a smooth sauce.

Bring to a simmer and return the hake to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the clams, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until all the clams are opened and the fish is cooked through. Uncover and scatter over the asparagus, peas and parsley. Simmer for a minute or two until the vegetables are warmed through. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Wine suggestion: As this is of Basque origin we could suggest a Txakoli, a Basque white wine. If this is difficult to find try a Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend, like from Bordeaux which has good freshness and crispness but also the body and structure to stand up to the flavours of the dish.

Inspiration from: Rick Stein’s Spain, BBC Books 2011

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