Tag Archives: Asparagus

Sweltering Summers Day Lunch

27 Jun

Salmon with Asparagus and Spinach

In years gone by, the asparagus season would have been long over by now. I am sure that British Asparagus will be running out soon, but I am enjoying it while I am around. I prepared this dish with the assistance of my friend Matt, who conveniently is a chef, and his wife Helen.

This happened to be my birthday lunch, and as I was anticipating a delicious restaurant dinner with my husband, I wanted an easy, quick and healthy lunch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 fillet of salmon per person
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus per person
  • 1 bag of spinach (will serve 2/3)
  • chopped garlic
  • butter
  • pesto or lemon and mayo to serve

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.While it is heating up, place the salmon fillets in a ovenproof dish. You want to poach them, so fill the dish with some water (or white wine if you are feeling extravagant), to about 1 cm depth and cover with foil.Trim the ends from the asparagus, place in a ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil, adding a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Leave uncovered.Both dishes will take 8/10 minutes. The trick with salmon is not to overcook it, or it becomes dry. You want the fish to still be slightly pink in the middle. Check after 8 minutes, and if it’s not quite there stick it back in the oven. My advice is to use a timer for those last couple of minutes, as its so easy to be distracted and overcook the fish by accident.

While the fish and asparagus are cooking, grab a jar of good quality mayo, decant some into a dish and mix in the zest of a lemon. Alternatively, put some fresh pesto out to serve on the fish. Melt 50/50 butter and oil (about 1 tbsp) in a pan then add garlic on a gently heat for 1/2 minutes until it starts to soften. Add fresh spinach and allow it to wilt (keep turning). Turn heat off once wilted. If I serve this with lemon mayo, I cut the zested lemon into wedges to serve on the side.

Lay the table and pour yourself a glass of chilled rose (or whatever tipple takes your fancy). By now the fish should be done, so all you need to do, is serve, then relax and enjoy.

Self-cook chicken, with asparagus and roasted tomatoes

14 Jun

I love asparagus, and while it’s in season, I add some to my basket every time I shop. My asparagus surplus led to an ‘open door at fridge’ moment on Saturday morning, as I was gazing at my stockpile wondering what to do next..

We are mid-way through packing for a house move, so for the next few weeks, more than ever, speed of preparation is the over-riding priority of my cooking decisions. This is closely followed by my desire make the food as healthy as possible. I have a wedding to attend in 2 weeks time, and no funds to buy a new dress, so I need to pay my penance for the last few weeks of gluttony, and to exert just a modicum of self-control when it comes to meal time. To that end, the cake tin lies empty and abandoned at the rear of a dusty cupboard, and I seem to be eating my weight in fruit and vegetables on a daily basis (chocolate counts as a one of your five a day, doesn’t it?).

Back to the asparagus stockpile. If I had more time to spare I would have considered a risotto, but with a full schedule I had only 5 minutes to spare for the preparation. Luckily, the additional ingredients for this dish were all languishing in the fridge, teetering on the edge of their use by date, calling for a (fridge) search and rescue operation. I am pleased to report, that they were not only found and rescued, but revived with a little TLC and a 30 minute sauna in the oven!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 bunches of asparagus (1 would suffice)
  • 1/2 punnet cherry plum tomatoes
  • a few grinds of sea salt and pepper
  • a dessert spoon of shallots from the freezer
  • a dash of olive oil
  • a splash (maybe a glass) of white wine (or stock if you don’t have wine)
  • fresh rosemary (I am lucky to have some in the garden)

    Step 1 The Asparagus

To prepare the asparagus, bend the bottom half of the spear until it snaps. Discard the end, and keep the remainder. Chop the head off on the diagonal, then continue chopping the remaining spear on the diagonal. Lay the asparagus in the bottom of an oven proof dish.

Chop the tomatoes in half, lay them on top then sprinkle on the shallots. Season with salt and pepper and a few small drops of extra virgin olive oil if you have it.

Step 2. Add tomatoes, shallots and seasoning

Lay a couple of sprigs on top of the mixture. Add the wine. My top tip, whenever I have white wine left over (not that often!) I freeze it, to save opening a full bottle when just a little will do for a recipe.

Add the (frozen!!) wine

Place the chicken breasts on top and cover with tin foil.

Step 4. Adorn with the chicken breasts

Cook for approx 30 mins in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees.

Check that the chicken is cooked and the juices run clear. Then leave it to rest on the side for 5 minutes. Slice on the diagonal. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper, or as I did, with pesto on the chicken breast.

Serves 2 adults (and a couple of toddlers)

'Resting'. Almost ready!

Although I havent tried it, I suspect this would work even better with skin on chicken, and without the foil, which would allow the chicken and the asparagus to crisp up in the oven. One for another day perhaps?

Served with a drizzle of Pesto