Seared asparagus salad with Parmigiano crisps is ideal salad for everyone in the mood for romance, and everyone who likes simple yet delicious food. Asparagus is best when grown and picked fresh. Regardless of whether you’re buying thin ‘sprue’ asparagus or extra-large ‘jumbo’ spears, always choose stems that are firm and lush, rather than dry and wrinkly. Avoid any stems that are discoloured, scarred or turning slimy at the tips. If you’re using whole spears, then make sure the buds are tightly furled. If you’re making soup, though, you could also use the cheaper, loose-tipped spears you sometimes find on market stalls. Despite what you may have read or heard, it’s not necessary to buy an asparagus steamer, nor to bind the asparagus into a bundle and cook it upright in a pan. For the best results, wash the stems thoroughly in a sink full of cold water. Then trim the stalks and, if the lower part of the stem seems tough when sliced and eaten raw, lightly peel the bottom third of the stem. Drop loose spears into a pan of boiling water and cook until just tender. The cooking time varies according to the thickness of the stems, but ranges between 3-5 minutes.
25 g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
100 g mix of rocket and chard salad
10 sunkissed tomatoes
juice from ½ lemon
100 g asparagus tips
1 ½ tsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic glaze
To make the crisps, preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Line a flat baking tray with nonstick baking parchment. Divide the grated cheese into 6 piles on the baking sheet and pres down to flatten slightly.
Place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is just melted but not coloured. remove from the oven. While still hot, use a small heart-shaped pastry cutter to cut the crisps into neat shapes. Leave to cool.
Toss together the rocket and chard salad, the sunkissed tomatoes and lemon juice, and pile onto 2 serving plates.
Heat the griddle or frying pan. Toss the asparagus tips in the olive oil and then place on the hot griddle to cook for 5 – 6 minutes until tender. Remove the asparagus and place on the top of the salad. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze and scatter over the Parmigiano crisps.