One of the great things about living in Australia is having asparagus and tomatoes in season at Christmas time. They really are at their best, as are zucchini, eggplant and red capsicum. This dressing is a little play on a green goddess, but with the sharpness of yoghurt instead of mayonnaise. You can make this up as a big salad for the middle of the table with whatever you want for lunch, or plate it as I’ve done here and serve as an entree.
2 large red capsicums
2 bunches asparagus, last 1cm of the stalks broken off
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and cut into sixths
extra virgin olive oil
For the dressing
180ml sharp Greek-style yoghurt
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
2 minced anchovies
1. For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together.
2. Grill the capsicums over a stove burner or barbecue to blister and blacken the skin. Place in a bowl and cover with a plate so the capsicums will steam and cook through, making them easier to peel. When cool, peel and cut into 8cm by 1cm strips.
3. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook the asparagus for 3 minutes, a bit longer if thick. Remove and refresh in ice water, then dry with a paper towel. Chop the spears in half on an angle so they look even prettier.
4. Peel, seed and halve the avocados and cut into 1cm-thick slices. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the slices to prevent browning.
5. On a serving plate, spoon the dressing in a pool. Place the tomato pieces next, randomly spaced, then the avocado slices over them. Add the asparagus spears, building a pile, and top with the sliced capsicum. Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze the juice of one lemon over the top, and season to taste with sea salt and a good grind of pepper. Serve immediately.
Christmas menu: This recipe goes with Karen Martini's roasted rolled chicken with 'nduja, black garlic and sage, and Helen Goh's floating island with chilled brandy custard for dessert.
Find more of Neil Perry's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.