The crunchy side
Asparagus with pine nut and sourdough crumbs
Please don’t be put off by the anchovies in this, even if you don’t like them. There are only two fillets, and they add a wonderfully deep, savoury flavour; there’s nothing fishy about the end product, I promise. If you’re not convinced and would rather leave them out, increase the salt slightly. Serve with meat, fish or as part of a spring meze; or, for a summery starter, with a poached egg.
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Blitz the sourdough in a food processor to fine crumbs, then pulse a few times with the pine nuts, anchovies, a generous pinch of flaked sea salt and plenty of pepper, until everything is finely chopped.
Put a small frying pan on a medium-high heat with the butter and, once it starts to foam, fry the crumbs for two to three minutes, stirring constantly, until golden brown and crisp. Tip the crumbs on to a plate and leave to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix the asparagus with two teaspoons of oil, the garlic, a quarter-teaspoon of flaked sea salt and a good grind of pepper. Spread out the spears on an oven tray lined with baking paper and roast for eight to 10 minutes, until soft and starting to brown. Remove from the oven and leave somewhere warm.
In a small bowl, mix the basil with a teaspoon of oil, the lemon zest and juice, and a pinch of flaked sea salt.
Sprinkle all but a tablespoon of the crumb mix on a large platter or between four individual plates. Top with the asparagus, then spoon over the basil and lemon salsa, and finish with a final sprinkling of crumbs.