First Warm Days
After what felt like the longest winter we’ve had in years, the first warm days have begun in London (with a few stop starts), and with them the some of the most anticipated ingredients of the year.
The arrival of British asparagus in particular marks a change in the year for me. Those first bunches turn up at the greengrocer when the parks and meadows are full and fragrant, green and scented. The taste, too, is one of the greenest flavours I know, while the texture is at once tender and crisp – a rare combination.
My first real job as a chef was at a beautiful local “olde worlde” restaurant in Kensington called Daphne’s. It was supposed to be Princess Diana’s favourite. One of the things I remember most was a dressing they made: a “mimosa” of chardonnay vinegar, oil and herbs. It works perfectly with asparagus.
ONE POT ASPARAGUS PASTA
Here’s the first in a series of video recipes I’ve been doing with The Pool, for a one-pot Genovese style pasta. A perfect mid-week supper with only one pan to wash up.
Simple boiled jerseys need little to help them shine. Here I’ve offered four quick dressings, a garlic aioli, a summer tartare, a quick and classy patatas bravas sauce, and a salmoriglio – essentially a herb oil made with marjoram or oregano, although thyme would do at a pinch.
These little toasts are a riot of colour and represent all that is great about English gardens in the late spring. The first radishes, roasted until they sweeten, the sweet peas, and some allium or chive flowers, if you can get them, add some prettiness as well as a punch of flavour.
These go particularly well with a glass of ice-cold rosé outside on a warm day. I use the dip-dyed pink and white breakfast radishes here, but the regular round ones would work really well too. We eat this for a late evening dinner but I’d proudly serve this as a quick starter too. They are also great at a picnic or a party; just double or triple the recipe for a crowd.
My winter favourite of ful medames has been replaced with this, which is better suited to spring. Add a few crushed boiled new potatoes if you want it to be really substantial. Vegans can crumble in 200g of tofu, well-seasoned with salt and pepper, in place of the eggs, and use a vegan yoghurt. The number of eggs you need depends on how many you’re feeding.