Asparagus? – check. Smoked Salmon? – check. You are nearly there for a really simple and delicious starter which takes minutes to prepare. Think of the classic asparagus wrapped in Parma Ham, and substitute the ham with smoked salmon. I wish for the life of me I could remember where I first tried this – this Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Bundle recipe has certainly become a favourite starter of mine.
In an ideal world (it is not, sadly) I would commit myself to only eating seasonally – however it is not always that straightforward. Part of the problem is my fault entirely – I have become so accustomed to having pretty much all ingredients at my disposal 365 days a year (within reason). I have no excuse not knowing when asparagus is in season though, as for many years I lived about half a mile from Peachcroft Farm in Abingdon, Oxfordshire who were very effectively at marketing their seasonal produce.
According to the British Asparagus website, the season is officially 23 April – 21st June, so let’s support our British growers with some really tasty recipes.
- Large bunch of asparagus spears (don’t be seduced by girth- the thinner stems tend to be less ‘woody’, more tender, and take far less time to cook). You’ll need 2-3 spears per bundle depending on size.
- A packet of smoked Salmon (150 – 200g – you’ll need a good slice per bundle)
- 1 x romaine or cos lettuce, cut into thick shreds
- ½ head of chicory, finely sliced
- 3 x 4 fennel stems, thinly sliced
- small red onion, finely diced
- 5-6 sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
- 2 x tbsp olive oil
- ½ tbsp cider vinegar
- salt + black pepper
- 1 x lemon, half of it juiced
- Trim the asparagus spears so that the discoloured and hard ends have removed (often about 15-20mm needs to be cut).
- Depending on the thickness of the spears (for this, I really think that the thinner ones are best), blanch the spears in boiling water for ~ 2 mins.
- Drain, and plunge in cold water. You can add ice to the water, as this helped to retain the vibrant green colour. Drain, and dry with kitchen towel.
- Line a baking tray/ grill pan with tin foil and lightly oil.
- Arrange the asparagus into bundles of 3-4 spears, and very carefully separate a slice of smoked salmon (it has an annoying tenancy to rip so consider a slow and steady vs. fast and furious approach), then wrap it around the base of the spears. Sometimes smoked salmon has plastic separator sheets, making this much easier. Line the asparagus and salmon bundles on the foil. Using an oil mister, spray a small amount of olive oil over the asparagus spears. Drizzle a little lemon juice over the smoked salmon, and season with black pepper and sea salt.
- Heat up the grill to a medium heat, and grill on 1 x side until the smoked salmon is cooked and the asparagus spears start to brown slightly. Turn over carefully with tongs, and cook the reverse side.
- In a small bowl or ramekin, combine the red onion, dill, vinegar and 2 tbsp olive oil, season, and mix well.
- Plate-up! Arrange the lettuce, chicory, and fennel, then carefully place the asparagus bundle next to it. Delicately spoon the dressing over the salad, and season with a couple of grinds of salt and pepper. Serve with a wedge of lemon, and, (optional) some warm crusty bread.