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Asparagus with dry cured ham

‘The first new season’s asparagus is one of my favourite ingredients. This dish is a very simple one – the saltiness of the ham works really well with the sweet asparagus’

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Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 800g/11⁄2 lb fresh asparagus spears
  • 100ml/4oz tarragon vinaigrette (see below)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 100g/4oz sliced Serrano or Parma ham
  • Handful fresh chervil sprigs

Snap off the bottom of each asparagus stalk and peel them finely from just below the tips to the base.

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the asparagus and cook for about 4 minutes until just tender.

Immediately drain and refresh the spears in a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain well and place in a bowl.

Shake the vinaigrette to combine, then strain over the asparagus and toss to coat. Season to taste.

Divide the asparagus into 4 bundles. Wrap each bundle loosely in the slices of dry-cured ham and arrange on serving plates. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette around the asparagus and garnish with chervil sprigs. Serve as a light lunch or evening snack with some good bread.

TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients (Makes 650ml/22fl oz)

  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 125/5fl oz white wine vinegar
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500ml/18fl oz olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 3 sprigs fresh tarragon

Put the lemon juice, wine vinegar and sugar in a bowl and season. Whisk in the olive oil, then, using a small funnel, pour into a jar or bottle and add the garlic and tarragon. Put a lid or cork on the bottle or jar and leave to infuse for at least an hour. Shake well before using.



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