Jersey Royal new potatoes and fresh British asparagus are the great joys of spring vegetables. I made this dish as part of my offering for the Coronation Big Lunch buffet we enjoyed recently with friends. ‘Captain Bob’ cooked us some delicious slow roasted pulled pork and I took this and my fennel and orange slaw and freekeh pilaf to go with it. What a celebratory treat it all was! Obviously, you can make this dish with a smaller amount of asparagus but a generous plate like this does look wonderful as a sharing dish. I love asparagus just with melted butter but that’s not really suitable for a cold sharing dish as it would just harden and set too quickly – not very visually appealing! Hollandaise sauce, another traditional pairing, can be a bit of a faff to make so I made this lemony yoghurt dressing instead which worked perfectly.
- 600g fresh young asparagus spears
- 250g thick Greek yoghurt
- The zest of a lemon
- The juice of half a lemon
- 4 tsps of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch of sea salt
- Ground black pepper
- Wash the asparagus and snap the woody ends off the base. The point to snap can be found by carefully bending the spears – there is a natural point on the stem where it will break easily.
- You won’t need to do this with thin, young spears but if they are quite thick, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer of the stem, from the base to about halfway up the spear. This will result in a shorter overall cooking time as the fibrous part of the asparagus has been removed, leaving a tender stem.
- Cook the asparagus straight after preparation, if you do need to store it be sure to cover with a damp cloth.
- To cook, layer the asparagus onto a steamer in a large pan. Add about 2 cm of water, cover the pot with a lid, bring the water up to boil rapidly and steam for just 5 minutes. Drain and refresh quickly with cold water to retain the bright green colour and to stop it cooking any further. Layer it onto a serving plate as above.
- To make the dressing, mix the olive oil, lemon juice salt and yoghurt together. Taste and add a little more lemon or salt if it needs it. It should be slightly thicker than double cream.
- Drizzle the sauce over the base of the stems, scatter with the lemon zest, black pepper and a little extra-virgin olive oil.
- You can keep this in the fridge if you make it ahead but remember to serve it at room temperature.
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