As­para­gus cigar­il­los

SERVES 4

Food and Travel (UK) - - Contents -

300g (trimmed weight) fin­gerthick as­para­gus

3tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 8 slices Parma or other air-dried ham

125g feta, cut across into thin strips about 8cm long

1 large slice coarse-tex­tured day-old white bread, crust­less 2tsp thyme leaves

To serve

warmed flat­breads (op­tional) tomato salad (op­tional)

Bring a large pan of salted wa­ter to the boil, add the as­para­gus and sim­mer for 3 min­utes, then drain it into a colan­der, pass un­der the cold tap and leave to cool. Sea­son well with salt and pep­per and toss with 1tbsp oil.

Lay 2-3 as­para­gus spears across one end of each slice of Parma ham with their tips pro­trud­ing above the fat. Lay a slice of feta on top within the ham, then roll up into a par­cel and ar­range in a row in a roast­ing pan, feta sit­ting up.

Whizz the bread to coarse crumbs in a food pro­ces­sor, and toss in a bowl with 1tbsp oil and the thyme. Scat­ter over and around the parcels. (You can pre­pare them to this point well in ad­vance, in which case, cover and chill in the fridge).

Pre­heat the oven to 220C/ 425F/Gas 7. Driz­zle with a lit­tle more oil and bake for around 15-20 min­utes un­til the crumbs are golden. Serve with flat­breads and a tomato salad.

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