My Favourite Grilled Asparagus | Simple Food is BACK!

Simple recipes are now the fashion, thank goodness. I grabbed Nigel Slater’s Greenfeast from the library just after it was released – I never buy a book these days without a good look at it first. I was surprised by the book, perhaps initially a little disappointed.

First of all, its dimensions are small for a cookbook, especially one that is to be used regularly in the kitchen. But it is also quite thick and bound in such a way that the book will not open flat. To cook from it I would need to put my heavy mortar on the edge of one page and the pestle on the edge of the other.

And then to the content – I was surprised at how everyday and simple the recipes are. My initial comment on social media was that it is a book to give Simple, by Ottolenghi, a run for its money. Few exotic ingredients, recipes that suit time-hungry but foodie professionals. Recipes without 6 or 7 or 8 different processes. But, well, also without excitement.

24 hours later I realised that the lack of excitement, the everydayness of the recipes is the genius of this book. It is a cookbook that thumbs its nose at all of the chefy cookbooks we have been drooling over for the past decade. It thumbs its nose at the hours we spent searching down new ingredients that in cities like Adelaide have not and never will make it into the mainstream. It thumbs its nose to those of us who like to think we know 1 or 2 things about food – but have forgotten how to cook simply.

Nigel’s recipes are always unapologetically British, but the first of the Greenfeast 2-Volume set focuses on stunning fresh-from-the-garden ingredients arranged with love on a plate to produce Summery yet nourishing dishes. It is a book that you want to cook through from start to finish for easy, satisfying, home cooked meals. Thanks Nigel.

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Asparagus Baked with Butter, Wine and Herbs

I do love those dishes you can do in under 10 mins, or if you are throwing them in the oven and they don’t take any effort, under 20 mins. We are all busy women, right? Doing a hundred things, with responsibilities for a hundred more. Between running my business, doing my “giving back” community volunteering work, running a house and large garden, cooking my heart out, grabbing coffees with friends – well, life is always full. Days are long, tummies get hungry (especially mine) and dinner is demanded on the table, like, NOW.

Right now, life is busier than it has been, and so the focus is on more of the dishes that are wonderful-without-effort.  For example, I’ve been known to put on a pot of pasta (to eat with olive oil, black pepper and pecorino), throw these asparagus in the oven, cook some Quick Zucchini and Garlic, and serve all with slices of crusty bread, to great family applause. All done in 15 mins if you turn the oven on when you come through the door, and before while you open some great wine to sip while cooking and chatting. Then for dessert – fruit and soft cheeses. Done.

You have to have these types of dishes. Some days you want to spend 3 hours on a meal. On other days you want a decent meal between the time you get in from work, and the time you rush out to meet the girls from the book club.

Similar recipes include My Favourite Grilled Asparagus, Quick Zucchini and Garlic, Asparagus Raita, and a Quick Asparagus Soup.

Browse all of our Asparagus recipes, and explore our Late Spring dishes.

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A Spring Salad

Today is a delicious Spring salad of asparagus, French beans, Broad beans, Edamame, and spinach. It creates a wonderful array of green, and this can be changed to your liking. Try chard, rocket, watercress, for example! It is a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More.

We love dishes that feature the various shades of a single colour, it makes you stop to check what’s in there. Spring and Early Summer are the time to do this as there is artichoke, rocket, asparagus, broad beans, watercress, samphire, peas, cabbage, all kinds of lettuce, runner beans, broccoli, sprouting broccoli, spring onion, chard, spinach and many, many more to choose from. When you put a few of these in one bowl, you get the most glorious celebration of colour and Spring. Thanks Ottolenghi.

It you make a lot of Ottolenghi salads, you will know that some toasted nuts sprinkled over the top of a salad makes a world of difference to the salad, adding both visual impact and a textural element. Making a large batch of toasted seeds will save you time – keep them in an air tight container. In this dish he specified sesame seeds and kalonji. We actually used a mixture of nuts and seeds that were left over from a previous salad – slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and kalonji.

Similar recipes include Salad of Broad Beans with Walnut-Yoghurt Sauce, Broad Bean and Tomato Salad, Glorious Five Bean Salad, Shaved Asparagus Salad, and Tawa Edamame.

Browse all of our Bean Salads, Broad Bean Salads and Asparagus Salads.

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Four Asparagus Soups for Spring

It is almost Spring, and Spring brings with it the delights of young peas, beautiful broad beans and new asparagus. To celebrate the upcoming bounties of the garden, here are four soups featuring asparagus that we want to share with you. Asparagus makes the most delightful soups – gentle yet flavoursome and very, very healthy. They can be made hot or cold to suit the weather, and thus are not restricted to Springtime but can feature in your kitchen all year.

Oh the joy of the first asparagus of the season!

Check out some of our other collections:

You might like to browse our other Asparagus Recipes and our Cold Soups. Or explore our Early Spring dishes.

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Green or Broad Bean Salad with Asparagus, Olives and Black Garlic

It is nearly Spring, and salads are all the go for our daily menu. If you have been following our salads, you will know we are mainly doing very simple salads at the moment, as life is busy and wearying. Thank goodness for that mesclun that green grocers sell – by-the-kilo varietal mixes of green salad leaves. The base of any salad is so easy! They are available year round, and you can make this salad in a nest of salad greens in the centre of a big plate. We haven’t done that today, but often serve it that way.

The salad takes beans – green or broad beans, either one, or mix them – and tosses them with asparagus and olives. A little black garlic is broken into small pieces and added.

Similar dishes include My Favourite Grilled Asparagus, Pasta with Minty Broad Bean Puree, Crispy Green Beans with Ginger and Soy, Italian Flat Bean Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnut Crumbs, Glorious Five Bean Salad, and Green Beans with Lentil Crumble.

Or try Broad Bean Salad with Tomatoes and Parmesan.

You can browse all of our Bean Salads, and indeed, all of our many many Salad recipes. Or explore our Early Spring dishes.

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Velouté d’asperges | Cream of Asparagus Soup

This soup, so they say, is reminiscent of the creations of the 18th century French grande cuisine. Asparagus was introduced by the Italians during the Renaissance, and was part of a change in eating habits that saw vegetables introduced into grande cuisine. Previously they had been considered the food of peasants.

This soup is thick, smooth and delicate as well as utterly delicious. It is simple to make with easily accessible ingredients. It is the perfect soup for year-round enjoyment, as it can be served cold in Summer and hot in Winter.  We’ve been making this soup since the early 2000’s.

The soup can also be made quickly and easily in any high speed blender that also heats foods as it blends. I have given the instructions for making it this way as well as the usual, stove-top method. In the blender it takes around 15 mins, including cooking the asparagus. When you are using the high speed blender (mine is a Vitamix), then there are no worries about stringy stalks on the asparagus – all is blended into a smooth, perfect soup.

Similar recipes include Sweet Cashew Cream, Minty Cucumber Yoghurt Soup, French Bean and Leek Soup, Spring Onion and Green Pea Soup, Chilled Asparagus Soup, Gentle Asparagus Soup, and Asparagus Raita.

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Browse all of our other Asparagus Soup recipes, our Asparagus recipes, and our French dishes. Or explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Raw Vegetable Salad with Mustard Mayo Dressing

A crunchy salad that lets the vegetables shine in a mustardy dressing of mayo thinned with vinegar and oil. It is an absolute delight. The dressing in this one takes an ordinary bowl of raw veg and turns it into heaven. I kid you not.

Ottolenghi and I always enjoy a crunchy salad like this one, I can tell, where the vegetables of the season are just chopped and thrown into a bowl with a fine vinaigrette. He says his Mother often made it for him when he visited home. The result is stunning; it captures the essence of the season and is why this salad should only be made with fresh, seasonal, top-notch vegetables. This really is crucial. Ditto the dressing: if you can use a good-quality sunflower oil – one that actually tastes of sunflower seeds – it will make a real difference. Thanks for that advice, Yotham.

It is such a wonderful salad, so healthy – a good salad to have after the xmas – new year over eating.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad, Raw Beetroot and Herb Salad, and White Radish Salad.

Browse all of our Cauliflower Salads and our Radish Salads. Our huge collection of Salads is here. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Cream of Asparagus Soup

Asparagus has that gentle flavour that makes it an ideal Spring vegetable, especially for soups. Asparagus soups do not have the heaviness of Winter soups, and as we emerge from jumpers, scarves, hats and overcoats, it is a delight to have its gentleness.

I don’t mean to imply that this soup should be kept only for Spring – indeed it will be a staple in your kitchen from Spring right through to the end of Autumn, at the times you can source decent asparagus. This recipe is a take on the recipe that appeared in Moosewood all those years ago – you Woodstock fans will know what I mean (and I am not referring to the bird!). It is a little different to the French Cream of Asparagus that we have also been making for quite a number of years.

This soup can be made in a high speed blender, one that heats the soup as it blends. While it misses the sweetness that can only be found in slowly cooked onions, sauteed asapragus and toasted roux, it is still a great option for evenings after a long day at work.

Similar recipes include Sweet Cashew Cream, French Cream of Asparagus Soup, Chilled Asparagus Soup and Gentle Asparagus and Turmeric Soup.

Check out our collection of:

Browse all of our Asparagus dishes and all of our Soups. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Green Puy Lentils, Asparagus and Watercress

Green lentils, brown lentils, red lentils, black lentils, yellow lentils, split peas, dried peas – the world of Western lentils is quite different to the world of Indian lentils. It presents a challenge to your pantry space if you commonly cook lentils from both cuisines. Two of the coloured lentils we adore and keep in our pantry each winter – the green French or Du Puy lentil, and the black Beluga lentil.

This salad is terrific, mixing hot green lentils with parmesan and asparagus with a dressing made from watercress and parsley. In many ways, this dish is about the parmesan rather than the lentils, dressing or asparagus. That yeasty, earthy umami flavour with the lentils and dressing as a base will have you coming back for more and more. The asparagus offers a delightful crunch.

It is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Plenty. Currently we are cooking from his book Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by.  For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Puy Lentils with Roasted Pumpkin, Sage and Feta, Lentil Salad with Pomegranate Molasses, and  Spring Salad.

Browse all of our Asparagus recipes, Puy Lentil dishes, and all of our Salads. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Asparagus Raita

This raita is a very simple one – the spices are in the tadka rather than layering them as powders in the yoghurt. But my, it is delicious. The recipe was given to me by a Maharashtrian friend who was making it for a special event at their home.  I do love to make recipes that are given to me, as the chain of links formed by people and recipes is something special and important. In days gone, the passing of recipes from person to person was very important – no social media, few books, rare magazines. So word of mouth was the conduit, along with the Saturday paper Ladies Section and locally printed books compiled by Women’s groups.

Enjoy this raita, it is special for several reasons.

Similar recipes include My Favourite Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber Raita, Spring Salad, Pomegranate Raita, Carrot Pachadi, and Bhindi Raita.

Browse all of our Raitas and all of our Asparagus dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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