Posts Tagged With: asparagus

Asparagus, Lemon & Pesto Pizza

I love May, full of birthdays (my sister and I’s) and the green spears of asparagus decide to make a brief appearance.  Surely one of the finest vegetables with a flavour like no other.

I’ve always found asparagus season intriguing, it’s so short and makes the availability of British asparagus so appealing.  You are forced to save up all of your asparagus recipes for this one little window of the year and then POW!  Asparagus begins to appear on everything.  So to celebrate this asparagus-fest, we popped ours on a pizza, there is something special about the flavours of asparagus that lends it to Italian cuisine.

It’s not often that we get a pizza on the roll, the original idea for asparagus on pizza came from a lovely blog friend Margaret over at  Pachamama’s Beautiful Food.  If you haven’t been over to this wonderful oasis of food and nature, we highly recommend a visit.  Margaret is sure to brighten up your day!

The ingredients here are pan roasted off in a little balsamic before topping the dough, adding a nice sweet/ sharp tang.  This pizza also comes with an oil that packs even more flavour onto this already heavy-laden crust.  We’d serve it in a bowl separately and let people help themselves.

Pesto we had left over and thought it sounded like a right good idea, this does make it a very rich affair, but adds a tonne of flavour.  The pesto we used was your standard green pesto, plenty of parmesan and basil.  A regular tomato sauce would also be wonderful here.  Lemon zest is also a brilliant addition and really shines through here, not something you see often on a pizza.

GREEN SPEARS

Asparagus is one of the oldest recorded vegetables and is said to originate from the Mediterranean, it was much revered by the Greeks and Romans (and still is!)  Asparagus is related to the onion and garlic, also the daffodil and tulip.  Asparagus is one of those strange vegetables that actually take up more calories to digest, than they offer the body, making it a negative-calorie vegetable (celery is another).  A celery and asparagus could just be the ultimate ‘diet’ salad.

Asparagus must be served as fresh as possible, if not the sugars present turn to starch and it loses flavour.  Asparagus is best harvested early in the morning and kept in the fridge in a plastic bag, this will keep them tender and conserve the vitamins present.

Normally I’m a brown flour chap, but a  little white does make things a lot lighter and a heavy pizza dough is just no fun.  It doesn’t matter what you do,where you buy it from, how Italian the flour is; if you don’t make your own pizza dough, it just ain’t the same!  Give it a whirl…..

This is a special pizza for special occasions!!

Roast Asparagus, Pesto and Lemon Pizza

Roast Asparagus, Lemon and Pesto Pizza

The Bits

Pizza Dough

Our No Knead Pizza Dough is our favourite at the minute.  So easy.

Toppings

8 stalks asparagus (tops cut in half length ways)

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

10 cherry tomatoes

1/3 courgette (sliced at a 45o angle if you like)

1 block vegan mozzarella (sliced into 1 cm slices) or use cashew cheese – something that melts

1/2 lemon zest

Handful of pitted olives (chopped)

Pinch chilli flakes

4 tbs green pesto

 

1/4 cup yoghurt

Fresh basil leaves

 

Oil

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

1/2 lemon zest

juice 1 lemon

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tbs white wine vinegar

 

Do It

Make your pizza dough.

Get your toppings ready, in a small frying pan, add a little olive oil and begin to fry your asparagus with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, when they are beginning to colour they are ready. Repeat process with tomato and courgette.

Roll out your dough on an oiled surface and either use your hands or a rolling pin to massage the dough into a pizza shape.  It will be resistant and needs a little coaxing, but will eventually rest into a shape.  For a golden crust brush with a little plant milk.

Pre heat fan oven to 220oC (get very hot).  If are lucky enough to have a pizza stone, pop that in now.

Spread pesto on pizza, leaving a one inch gap around the edges then scatter your toppings with glee on your dough.  Be reckless and generous.

Pop in oven and check after 10-12 minutes, may need another 5 depending on the potency of your hot box.  The base of the pizza should be cooked in the centre.

For the oil, simply add all to a bowl and whisk together.  This will keep well in the fridge overnight and may be all the better for it!

Serve

Hot out of the oven, spoon over some yoghurt, sprinkle with basil leaves and serve with a nice light green salad with a sweet-ish dressing.

We Love It!

Too easy to love this one, far too easy.  From zesty top to crispy bottom, its a all round champion!

Foodie Fact

Asparagus is a good source of dietary fibre and can help with IBS, they are also rich in the vitamin B’s and folates.  It also contains many minerals, especially copper and iron.

Categories: Recipes, Spring | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Sweet Pepper and Pomegranate Antipasto (Raw)

Raw Sweet Pepper and Pomegranate Antipasto

We felt like a little starter, something to nibble on.  Nibbles seem to be the new thing, judging by the snack section in our local supermarket.  We seem to becoming a nation of rampant nibblers (dipped in hummus of course).

Italians are the kings of the nibble, tied with the Spanish, but they tend to make it more of main meal, a la tapas.  Antipasto (translated as ‘before the meal’) is always the perfect accompaniment to nice glass of chilled something and good conversation as the sun is beginning to settle down.

This raw June (just passed) we have been mainly having large salads for dinner.  We didn’t manage to arrange a dehydrator for the month, which would have meant many dried, crisp goodies.  Instead we have normally opted for large bowls of salad, normally a green leaf based salad, a dip/ hummus/ raw cheese (something with a creamy texture), olives/nuts/pomegranate etc and one salad that is made of primarily harder fruit and veg (like this antipasto).  All this served with a lovely dressing.  The combination of these salads is tantalising!  We cannot get enough of them and have decided to extend raw June in the future……………our rawness may never cease!?

This is a clean and citrus antipasto dish that boasts fresh, fresh flavours.  The ideal pre-dinner plate to get the palate zinging.  The combination of sweet pepper, tomato and pomegranate is a taste explosion that is difficult to match.  If this little plate doesn’t liven up a dinner party, your friends may be comatosed!

The asparagus here was the last of the season from our local farm shop and very much relished.  It is not essential to the dish, but a real treat non-the-less.  The subtle flavour and crunch of raw asparagus will be missed until it re-emerges next year.

You can serve this with other antipasto favourites to make a platter, olives, artichoke hearts, chunks of cheese, marinated mushrooms etcetc.

Organic peppers and tomatoes will make all of the difference to this dish and your salads in general.  The organic veg flavour is infinitely better.

Thanks to Mimi Kirk and the brilliant ‘Live Raw‘ book for inspiration here.  If you live on a drab island like ours (where June resembles November) it is wonderful to leaf through the pages of this book and see the Holywood lifestyle and sunshine!  How I miss the sun.

Sweet, sweet tomatoes

The Bits

Antipasto 1 red pepper (sliced thinly), 1 yellow pepper (sliced thinly), 1 bunch of asparagus (cut into batons), 1 small pomegranate (seeds (or arils as they are called) only, no pith), 1 big handful of the sweetest plum tomatoes (we used red and yellow ones here)

Marinade – 4 tbs good olive oil, handful of fresh basil leaves, 1-2 cloves of garlic (crushed), a pinch of marjoram, oregano, thyme, basil, juice of 1 small lemon, 2 teas capers, pinch of sea salt and cracked pepper.

Do It

Whisk your marinade then combine all ingredients in a tupperware and mix together gently, don’t break up the asparagus and tomatoes.  Make sure all is coated with the marinade.  Leave in a fridge overnight or for at least a couple of hours to infuse.

Sweet Pepper and Asparagus Antipasto – So colourful, its worth a second look

Serve

On a nice big serving platter with whatever accompaniments you prefer.  You may like to add a little torn basil leaf as a topping and of course, some nice toasted ciabatta drizzled with olive oil if it takes your fancy.

We Love It!

It is so full of crunchy flavour and pomegranate in a salad is a revelation.  I’m not sure if my Italian friend would agree with such an addition, not proper antipasto they would say, but they only know what mama taught them!!!!  (Sorry guys)

Foodie fact

Most of us are aware that pomegranate is good for us.  You can buy it in juice form all over Britain, it is most definitely a super fruit of note, packed full of the antioxidant punicalagin which scavenges free radicals from our bodies.  Hooray!  One of my favourite pomegranate products is the pomegranate concentrate, it adds an incredibly intense flavour to anything it touches.

The worlds finest pomegranates are grown in southern Afghanistan, although I heard that Iraq had some tasty arils also!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Lunch, Organic, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Beach House Egg Benedict with Asparagus

Morning bluebell

This is our version of the famous Waldorf Hotel breakfast dish.  It was originally created by a man named Benedict (surprisingly!) who wanted something to cure his hangover.  I have almost completely changed the dish, made it a healthier delight, and served it for supper.

That seems to be the BHK style, take a classic and meddle with it until it is almost unrecognisable!

Asparagus is a very beautiful thing, so fleeting, which makes you appreciate it more. I have recently looked into growing them and it really is a labour of love. They are quite tricky and only give you good spears after a few years. Hootons Homegrown have been selling some delicious packs of asparagus, so we’ve been using it in many recipes. Simply pan-fried is my favourite and topped with a local egg makes it something rather special.

This is a gorgeous light dinner or lunch and quick to prepare. The layered effect and combination of creamy dressing, runny egg and crispy vegetables give it a ‘complete’ restaurant dish feel. We added a little toasted oat bread for some ‘packing’. We’ve been in the garden for most of the day, doing loads of seeding and planting; transplanting and spreading of horse manure. We needed a good feed.

We loved to use the last of our wild garlic here, picked from the roadsides of Anglesey. The extent of our foraging consisted of opening the car door and leaning out. Not exactly Ray Mears, but just as satisfying. Who doesn’t appreciate a little free food?

Broccoli Florets

The Bits
Glug of olive oil, half a handful of pumpkin seeds, 1 big handful chopped wild garlic, 1 big handful chopped mint, half a large head of broccoli, 5 handfuls of spinach leaves, 1 large handful cherry tomatoes, splash of water.
Bunch of whole asparagus spears (take of the tough tails, normally one inch from base)
Mixed salad leaves
2 free range, organic eggs (with vivid yolks)
For the Dressing
(these measurements are slightly larger than a teaspoon)
1 teas honey, 1 teas dijon mustard, 4 teas olive oil, 1 teas white wine vinegar, salt + pepper (s+p), 4 teas creamy natural yoghurt.

Do It
Make dressing, add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix together thoroughly. Taste and adjust to how you like it (sweeter, saltier, not quite mustardy enough, more bite, smoother etc).
In a large saucepan, on a medium heat warm the olive oil then add your pumpkin seeds, roast for a few minutes until slightly golden, then add the cherry tomatoes and scorch a little, then add the wild garlic then broccoli.  Add a splash of water (roughly 2 tbs). Season with s+p. Cook for a couple of minutes then add spinach and mint.  Put to the side with the lid on, keeping warm.  This will steam the broccoli.
In a separate small saucepan, bring some salted water to the boil with a splash of white wine vinegar and poach your eggs (crack them into a tea cup and pour low and gentle into boiling water for a neater shape).
As that is happening, heat a glug of olive oil in a small frying pan and flash fry the asparagus spears for three minutes. Do not overcook, they should be nice and crunchy. You may add a splash of truffle oil here, if you are feeding people you love very dearly. It’s a decadent touch.
Give your salad leaves a quick wash and drain.

Beach House Benedict

Serve
Place a flat pile of green salad on your serving plate, add the broccoli and wild garlic fricassee (posh word for something fried), then spoon over the dressing, top with a neat pile of asparagus spears and place the egg on top and season with a little s+p. We had it with a piece of toasted oat bread.

We Love It!
Jane loved it so much she actually licked the plate clean! It wasn’t pretty!

Foodie Fact

Asparagus has been enjoyed by folk for thousands of years and has also been used for its medicinal properties.

Asaparagus is brilliant for digestion and helps to regulate our blood sugar levels.  It also contains very high levels of Vitamin K.

Categories: Dinner, Dressings, Garden, Healthy Eating, Local food, Lunch, Organic, Recipes, Welsh produce, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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