I love this time of year, with asparagus coming into season. It's perfect in salads, sauteed or as a side dish. You can even chuck it on the barbie for a few minutes. If even that seems too much like hard work, don't forget it's a perfect vegetable to eat raw. Try pairing this asparagus number with a homemade beef pie.
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
48g tin good-quality anchovy fillets, such as Ortiz
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
pinch of ground chilli
2 bunches of asparagus, woody ends removed sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
2 cups of watercress, picked and washed
¼ cup hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
1. Peel the lemon with a small knife, taking care to remove all of the white pith.
2. Remove any pips and finely chop the flesh. Place in a food processor and add 3 tbsp of oil, the anchovy fillets, garlic and chilli. Process until well combined.
3. Keeping the motor running, gradually add the milk, about ½ tbsp at a time. (If you add the milk too quickly, the dressing may split.)
4. When all the milk is incorporated, add about 1-2 tsp of warm water so the dressing is of pouring consistency.
5. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Blanch the asparagus until just tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain and refresh in iced water. Drain again.
6. Dress the asparagus with remaining olive oil and season to taste.
7. Place some of the anchovy dressing on a large share plate, pile the asparagus on top, then top with watercress. Spoon over the remaining dressing and scatter over the hazelnuts.
Suggestion: Serve with Neil's beef chuck and pea pot pies