Friday 24 November 2017

Grilled Asparagus with Red Peppers, Parmesan and Balsamic Reduction

Grilled asparagus with red peppers, parmesan and balsamic reduction
Grilled asparagus with red peppers, parmesan and balsamic reduction

Neven Maguire

Grilled Asparagus with Red Peppers, Parmesan and Balsamic Reduction

This is best eaten during asparagus season, which runs for approximately eight weeks in May and June. This is when asparagus has a full, sweet flavour and fine, tender texture. Baby leeks make a good winter alternative. Serves six.

YOU WILL NEED

2 bunches asparagus

4 tbsps rapeseed oil

6 fresh basil leaves, torn

3 fresh thyme sprigs

1 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

3 large red peppers

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

300ml/½ pint balsamic vinegar

50g/2oz toasted pine nuts

75g/3oz Parmesan shavings

25g/1oz wild rocket

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

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 iced water. Drain again and dry thoroughly, then place in a non-metallic dish.

Add two tablespoons of the 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 – overnight in the fridge is fine.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Place the red peppers in a roasting tin with the garlic and drizzle over the remaining oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the skins are well charred and the peppers are completely tender.

Remove the roasted peppers from the oven and carefully place them in a polythene bag. Tie securely and leave to cool completely.

The steam will help remove the skin easily. Once the peppers are cool, remove from the bag and cut each pepper in half, then discard the cores and seeds and set aside until needed.

Peel the garlic cloves and then mash the flesh to a paste. Stir into the marinating asparagus mixture.

To make the balsamic reduction, pour the balsamic vinegar into a heavy-based pan and bring to the 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 a griddle pan and cook for three minutes, turning once until lightly charred and heated through. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your griddle pan.

To serve, arrange one half of a 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.

Irish Independent

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