Asparagus with Tomato Dressing and Crème Fraiche

This is a lovely asparagus starter. The tomato dressing has an intensity that contrasts well with the slightly nutty flavour of briefly cooked asparagus – and soft, gentle crème fraiche bridges the gap between the two flavours beautifully.

Recipe Author:  Skye Gyngell
My Favourite Ingredients
Photography by Jason Lowe
Reproduced courtesy of Quadrille publishing

Publisher's Copyrighted Material
Category:  Starters & Salads  - 
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Ingredients

For 4 people

Recipe

  • 32 asparagus spears
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbs crème fraiche
  • dressing
  • 12 little ripe tomatoes
  • 200 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, leaves only
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 4 good-quality tinned anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs good-quality red wine vinegar
  • finish
  • sprigs with flours or finely chopped parsley

Asparagus with Tomato Dressing and Crème Fraiche Directions

  1. First make the tomato dressing. Preheat the oven to 200 C/Gas 6.

  2. Pierce each tomato once with a small sharp knife – this helps to release the juice while the tomatoes are cooking. Place them in a roasting tin in which they fit quite snugly. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and bursting from their skins. Set aside to cool.

    Pound the rosemary leaves, garlic and anchovy fillets to a rough paste, using a pestle and mortar. Add the tomatoes one by one, pounding after each addition, until all have been incorporated. Add the mustard and wine vinegar and stir well to combine. Pour in the olive oil, stirring as you do so. Taste and season with a little salt and pepper. The dressing should be quite coarse and textural. Set aside to allow the flavours to adjust to each other.

    To cook the asparagus, place a large pan of well-salted water on to boil. Snap the asparagus spears near the base – they will naturally break off where the fibrous part ends. Peel the lower end of the stalks. When the water is boiling vigorously, drop in the asparagus and cook for 1 ½ minutes or until the spears are still firm but yield to the bite. Remove with tongs and place in a warm bowl.

    Immediately season the asparagus and dress with extra virgin olive oil. Arrange on warm plates, add a dollop of crème fraiche and spoon on the tomato dressing. Finish with rosemary flowers, if available, or sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and serve.
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