It is hard to believe that we are already a month into the short asparagus season and it has taken me until now to post a recipe. Hard to believe, as despite its well known side effects, I probably eat a bunch a day around this time of year, re-affirming its place as my favourite vegetable. Asparagus probably holds this highly esteemed position in my life, as I refuse to consume it out of season, and thus find it absolutely necessary to gorge myself on it for the few weeks it hangs around the farmers market.
If you are not a first time visitor to this site, you will also be aware of my utter devotion to fresh herbs and lemon with almost everything, and therefore not particularly surprised to see them here in their full glory as a salsa verde of sorts. And as we are in the throws of hopeful al-fresco dining, this side dish is the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat or fish, or if you are so daring, picnics.
I am heavily into simplest of simple cooking at the moment, so for this recipe I quickly steamed the asparagus. But if your grill is on, or if you are so inclined, you can blanch them for a minute or so, drain, and then pop them on the bbq (or under the grill, or onto a griddle pan) just before you want to serve with the salsa. Also, you may want to make some extra salsa, it is delicious on any grilled fish or chicken. And feel free to mix in any herbs of your choice. It just so happens that I am using chives and dill with abandon this summer.
The inspiration for the salsa came from April Bloomfield and her delicious lemon caper vinaigrette, where she segments the lemon and keeps them in chunks in the dressing. I loved this idea and added the herbs to the mix, and hey presto!
Asparagus with Lemon Caper Salsa
1kg asparagus (2 bunches), tough ends trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 small garlic clove
good pinch of salt
1 handful of chives, dill and parsley (approx 15g of each)
2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
Bring a large sautee pan with salted water to the boil. Add asparagus and cook for 1-3 minutes, depending on their thickness and whether you want to finish them off on the gill.
Drain asparagus and run under cold water. Drain again. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper
Zest the lemon and keep to one side. Segment the lemon (discard any remaining peel first) over a medium bowl to catch the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with lemon juice and squeeze the membranes to extract any final liquid.
Crush the garlic and add to the lemon. Allow to sit and macerate for a few minutes. This removes the raw garlic taste in the salsa.
Thinly slice the chives and chop the dill and parsley and capers. You don't want to mince the herbs, the salsa should have some texture against the smooth asparagus.
Add the herbs and capers to the lemon juice and segments. Drizzle over the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and gently stir everything together. You don't want to break up the lemon segments too much. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, but remember there is already some on the asparagus.
Arrange the asparagus on a serving plate and arrange the salsa over the stems. Alternatively, if you want to finish them up under or on the grill, keep the dressing in the fridge for up to an hour or so and dress once the asparagus have been a little charred at the edges.