And the prodigal blogger as well. Like a bad penny or an early summer Irish downpour I turn up, hands in pockets and whistling sheepishly, pretending I never left. You may be forgiven for thinking that I've been sitting in a darkened room stuffing my face with chocolate, but the truth is I just haven't made anything that didn't already appear here (I only spent one week stuffing my face with chocolate). The shocking lack of vegetables also has to be dealt with so from now on only 9 out of 10 posts will be dedicated to sweet things.
Getting the green ball rolling is my favourite prodigal vegetable which should be making a welcome and abundant return to a shop/market near you. Always expensive but at least a little cheaper at this time of year, now is the time to eat as much asparagus as humanly possible before it disappears back to Darkest Peru for the rest of the year. British asparagus is the closest to home I have found this year (Irish growers please feel free to correct me) but it tastes so good I'll have to put my carbon foot down and keep munching until I manage to grow my own.
Wherever you get your asparagus from, what you are looking for are firm green spears (no drooping allowed) and tight purplish tinged buds whose colours become all the more vivid when cooked. Simplicity is the key and my first plate of the year was of warm griddled spears with cool, milky buffalo mozzarella and a simple lemon and chive dressing.
The recipe which I found in a Sunday newspaper at the weekend suggested a last minute scattering of chive or wild garlic flowers and so I sacrificed the few petals on a now tamed-in-a-pot wild garlic plant I picked up at the market. The garlic flavour of the flowers is really only hinted at so has no real impact on the overall flavour of the asparagus, but they do look pretty.The green and white combination on the plate is the picture of serenity but once you get it in your mouth the flavours are bright and refreshing and what can really only be described as green. And green is my favourite colour.
The recipe is from the Style section of last weeks Sunday Times.
GRIDDLED ASPARAGUS SPEARS WITH BUFFALO MOZZARELLA.
- 500g asparagus, ends snapped off
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, juice and finely grated zest
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- Handful of fresh chives, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 250g ball of buffalo mozzarella
- Chive or wild garlic flowers if available.
- Boil the asparagus for one minute in a large pan of boiling water then drain in a colander and leave to steam dry. Toss the asparagus in bowl with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Heat a griddle pan to medium high and grill the spears for 3-4 minutes until beginning to char but still retaining a little bite. Divide the asparagus between four plates.
- Whisk the remaining oil with the lemon juice and zest, shallot, half the chives and season to taste. Tear the mozzarella over the asparagus and drizzle with dressing. Scatter over the remaining chives and flowers, if using, before serving.
Serves 4 as a starter. 2 as a light lunch. Me if I refuse to open the door.