Spear a forkful
Spring into a plate of fresh asparagus with these zesty dishes
Neat stooks of asparagus at the vege shop mean just one thing: spring is here and light, fresh flavours are back with a bang. Here I’ve used the spears in a variety of ways, from an easy rustic tart and a hearty salad
(both great extras at a barbie) to a light and tasty vege risotto, filling donburi and a special eggs Bene so you can make the most of their short-lived abundance.
Asparagus, chicken, egg & new potato salad with herb dressing
Ready in 30 minutes | Serves 2 | DF | GF 350g (10-16) baby new potatoes (use any variety, or a mixture is nice) 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, spears cut in half ½ small red onion, thinly sliced 1½ tsp capers 1 roast chicken leg or breast, meat shredded 2 handfuls baby salad leaves 2 soft or hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved HERB DRESSING ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley ¼ cup mint leaves 3-4 Tbsp chopped dill 3 anchovies Juice ½ lemon 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Cut any larger potatoes in half so that they are all roughly the same size. Place potatoes in a pot with a good pinch of salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until just tender. Add asparagus to pot for the last 1-2 minutes of cooking time to lightly cook until bright green.
2 Combine all herb dressing ingredients in a blender or crush together in a mortar and pestle. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3 Drain potatoes and asparagus and toss with red onion, capers, chicken and three-quarters of the herb dressing.
4 Arrange salad leaves on plates, top with potato mixture and egg halves. Spoon remaining dressing on top and season with freshly cracked black pepper.
Asparagus, sundried tomato, olive & goat’s cheese tarts
Ready in 35 minutes | Serves 4 2 square sheets puff pastry 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling ½ cup roughly chopped sundried tomatoes 8-10 olives, pitted, cut in half 100g soft goat’s cheese or feta Rocket and pear salad, to serve (optional) 1 Preheat oven to 220°C.
2 Cut pastry sheets in half so you have 4 rectangles. Use a blunt knife to gently score a 1cm border around each one.
3 Arrange asparagus spears on each rectangle, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake on a large baking paper-lined oven tray for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden. Halfway through cooking, sprinkle sundried tomatoes, olives and cheese on top and return to oven. (You may need to use 2 trays. If so, swap the trays over on the shelves when you add the tomatoes etc, so the pastry puffs up equally; the tarts may also need an extra 5-10 minutes of cooking time.)
4 These tarts are delicious served with a salad of rocket and thinly sliced pear.
Asparagus & pea risotto
Ready in 45 minutes | Serves 3-4 | GF 1 Tbsp olive oil 2 large knobs butter 1 small onion, finely chopped 250g carnaroli or arborio rice ½ cup dry white wine 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock* 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, chopped 1 cup frozen baby peas, defrosted 1 Tbsp chopped dill 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley Juice ½ lemon ¾ cup grated parmesan, plus extra to garnish Pea shoots, to garnish (optional)
1 Heat olive oil and 1 knob of butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan or saucepan on low-medium heat. Add onion and sweat gently, with a good pinch of salt, until soft (about 6 minutes).
2 Add rice to pan, toss and stir to coat in butter, oil and onion, and continue stirring for a further 2 minutes. Add wine and allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes until most of it has evaporated.
3 Add stock, stir, cover with a lid and cook on low-medium heat for about 20 minutes, lifting lid and stirring every 5 minutes or so, until stock has been absorbed and rice is tender. If you think it’s needed, add another ½-1 cup stock to loosen. Stir through asparagus and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir through peas, dill, parsley, lemon juice, remaining butter and parmesan. Season to taste.
4 Spoon into bowls and top with extra parmesan and pea shoots (if using).
Asparagus & chorizo eggs Bene with avocado hollandaise
Ready in 20 minutes | Serves 2 | DF Olive oil, for cooking 100g chorizo, diced or sliced 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed 4 fresh free-range eggs 4 muffin splits or slices wholegrain bread** Butter or extra virgin oil, for spreading/drizzling Parsley, basil or watercress, to garnish AVOCADO HOLLANDAISE Flesh 1 ripe avocado Juice ½ lemon 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Make hollandaise by blending everything together, adding 1 Tbsp water at a time until smooth. Season to taste with salt and set aside. Fill a medium frying pan two-thirds full with boiling water and bring to a simmer.
2 Heat a little drizzle of olive oil in another frying pan over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook for a few minutes or until cooked and fat has rendered out. Spoon out chorizo, leaving any fat in the pan; set aside. Add asparagus to pan and cook until just tender (about 2 minutes).
3 As asparagus cooks, carefully crack eggs into simmering water and gently poach for about 2 minutes or until whites are just set and yolks are still runny. Remove with a slotted spoon.
4 Toast muffin splits/bread in toaster and spread with butter or drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
5 Top with eggs and asparagus, spoon over hollandaise and sprinkle with chorizo. Add a grind of pepper and garnish with herbs.
Avocado, asparagus & salmon donburi
Ready in 25 minutes plus marinating time | Serves 2 | DF | GF 2 Tbsp soy sauce*, plus extra to season rice 1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey 2 cloves garlic, sliced 300-350g boneless, skinless salmon fillet 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, chopped Oil, for cooking
2 cups steamed brown or sushi rice 1 firm ripe avocado, sliced 1 sheet dried nori seaweed, finely sliced 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds Pickled ginger*
1 Mix soy sauce, brown sugar or honey and garlic in a medium dish. Add salmon fillet and turn to coat. Leave to marinate in fridge for as long as you can – ideally for 4-6 hours but 30 minutes will do. 2 Steam brown or sushi rice then season to taste with a little soy sauce.
3 Place asparagus in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 2-3 minutes until bright green and just tender, then drain.
4 Heat a drizzle of oil in a frying pan and cook marinated salmon fillet for about 2 minutes on each side until just cooked through.
5 Spoon rice into bowls, top with flakes of salmon, avocado and asparagus and sprinkle with nori and sesame seeds. Serve • with pickled ginger. * Check label if eating gluten free ** Check label if eating dairy free
CREDITS Dinner plate (eggs Bene) and green water jug from A&C Homestore. Green table and books from Junk & Disorderly. Other items stylist’s own.