In the Spring I simply cannot decide which green vegetable to start cooking with first — peas, broad beans or asparagus. The arrival of the first clay covered new potatoes at the farmers market is a thrill and a promise that winter’s root vegetables are no longer my sole source of kitchen inspiration. With fists full of bright green spears of asparagus, I look back with absolutely no regrets on the end of limited hours of daylight for three glorious new seasons. With the door temporarily closed to the cold, I look forward to a gorgeous spring, a brightly colored summer and an unforgettable harvest season in the fall. The following recipe is distinctively Italian and made with three of the best earthy ingredients — grilled asparagus and potatoes with lemon-parsley gremolata. This is deliciously real fast food.
- one bunch of organically grown green asparagus with 12 to 16 spears
- six to eight small new potatoes – about 150 grams per person
- Celtic sea salt
- 25 ml extra virgin olive oil
For the “gremolata”
- a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley – about 12-16 sprigs
- one clove of garlic
- the zest of one organic lemon
- 50 ml of your best extra virgin olive oil
- Celtic sea salt
Preheat the oven to 215 degrees. Soak the new potatoes in warm water and brush them clean of dirt and clay. Cut them in half and then into coin-shaped wedges. Layer them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and brush them with a small amount of olive oil. Bake the potatoes 10-15 minutes, until they are “al dente”.
Meanwhile wash the asparagus and break off the first 3-4 centimeters of the spears, saving the stalks to make a broth for risotto. Peel the asparagus with a vegetable peeler up to about four centimeters from the top. Layer the asparagus on top of the new potatoes and bake them in the oven for eight minutes.
Wash and dry the flat leaf parsley. Chop the stems and the leaves very fine with a sharp knife. Scrub the lemon and remove the zest of with a grater or a zester. (Personally I like the thread like curls made by a zester) Peel the garlic clove and crush it with the flat part of a knife. Grind the garlic with a good pinch of Celtic salt with a pestle and mortar until the oils of the garlic perfume the kitchen. Add half of the chopped parsley, and 25 ml extra virgin olive oil. Mix the ingredients briefly to a colorful green paste. Add the lemon zest, the rest of the flat leaf parsley and stir in the remaining olive oil. The gremolata should just stick to a spoon.
Layer the grilled asparagus on a platter. Toss a few spoons of gremolata over the potatoes and scoop them over the asparagus.
Make a small green salad with stinging nettles, dandelion greens or some other interesting wild green mixture from your area. Toss the greens with some lemon juice and add them to the asparagus. This dish makes for lovely picnic food.
Chop a handful of pistachios and toss them over the entire dish for added texture and flavor.