Grilled asparagus with red peppers, parmesan and balsamic reduction
YOU WILL NEED
2 bunches asparagus
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 fresh basil leaves, torn
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 large red peppers
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
300ml (½ pint) balsamic vinegar
75g (3oz) Parmesan shavings
50g (2oz) toasted pine nuts
25g (1oz) wild rocket
Maldon sea salt and freshy ground black pepper
To prepare the asparagus spears, trim about 5cm (2in) of the woody ends from each spear. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the asparagus tips for two minutes, then drain and quickly refresh in a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain again, dry thoroughly, then place in a non-metallic dish.
Add two tablespoons of the olive oil with the basil, thyme and parsley to the asparagus spears, turning to coat them evenly. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate for one hour, or overnight in the fridge is fine.
Preheat the oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 6. Place red peppers in a roasting tin with the garlic and drizzle over the remaining olive oil.
Roast for 30-40 minutes until the skins are well charred and the peppers are tender. Remove the roasted peppers from the oven and carefully place them in a polythene bag. Tie securely and leave to cool. The steam will help remove the skin easily. Once the peppers are cool, remove from the bag, skin and cut each pepper in half, then discard the cores and seeds and set aside.
Peel the garlic cloves and then mash the flesh to a paste, stir into the marinating asparagus mixture.
To make the balsamic reduction, place balsamic vinegar in a heavy-based pan and bring to boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until you have achieved a syrup-like consistency, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool and then transfer to a plastic squeezy bottle. This will keep happily in the fridge for up to three months.
When ready to serve, heat a griddle pan until very hot. Add the roasted peppers to the asparagus mixture, tossing to coat in the marinade, then carefully arrange asparagus and peppers on the griddle pan and cook for 3 minutes, turning once until lightly charred and heated through. You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan.
To serve, arrange one half of pepper and four asparagus spears on each warmed plate. Scatter over the toasted pine nuts and drizzle around some of the balsamic syrup.
Garnish with the Parmesan shavings and wild rocket.