The crunchy side

As­para­gus with pine nut and sour­dough crumbs

The Guardian - Feast - - News -

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.

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