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What’s cooking today: Asparagus and mangetout salad with gremolata croutons

What’s cooking today: Asparagus and mangetout salad with gremolata croutons
Tony Jackman’s asparagus and mangetout salad with gremolata croutons, served in a matt black bowl from Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Nothing is greener and crispier than asparagus and mangetout peas that have been blanched and refreshed in iced water. That’s spring in a salad bowl.

Crunchy as fresh green asparagus and mangetout are, I wanted more, so I fried some croutons cut from a crust-end of day-old bread, and tossed them in chopped garlic, parsley and lemon zest, the classic Italian gremolata traditionally used to garnish osso buco.

Ingredients

2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 crust of white bread (not fresh), diced small

About 20 slim green asparagus spears

About 20 mangetout peas

3 or 4 spring onions, chopped

3 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Grated zest of 1 small lemon

2 more garlic cloves, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Pour the olive oil and lime juice into a bowl (not the salad bowl you’re using, this is only for combining some of the ingredients). Chop the garlic and add it. Chop the spring onions and add them. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a pan and fry the croutons until crisp and golden all over.

In a bowl, mix the extra chopped garlic with the parsley and lemon zest. Toss the croutons in this.

Cut off the woody, pale ends of the asparagus spears. Or, bend them and they will snap at the right point. Trim off the little “scales”, which are actually asparagus leaves.

Trim the mangetout. Depending on their size, some will have “strings”. Cut one pointed end and pull it away, for the string to tear off. Some may not have strings.

Bring water to a boil in a deep pot.

Plunge the asparagus spears in and bring to a gentle boil, and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a colander and immediately run very cold water over it to set the colour.

Bring the water back to a boil and do the same as above with the mangetout.

Dry the asparagus and mangetout with kitchen paper or a clean kitchen towel.

Arrange the asparagus spears attractively in a salad bowl.

Add the mangetout to the bowl in which you combined the dressing ingredients and spring onion. Toss and add to the centre of the salad bowl, topped by the gremolata croutons.

This could be part of a light spring lunch, or a side to a braai or fish dish. DM/TGIFood

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected]

SUBSCRIBE: There’s much more from Tony Jackman and his food writing colleagues in his weekly TGIFood newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Saturday. Subscribe here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.å

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