Neil Perry's barbecued asparagus with spiced eggplant salad

Neil Perry
Neil Perry's asparagus with spiced eggplant salad
Neil Perry's asparagus with spiced eggplant salad  Photo: William Meppem
Difficulty
Easy
Dietary
Vegetarian

Nothing says spring like fantastic local asparagus and this dish just seems the perfect heralding of the coming warmer months.

Ingredients

2 bunches asparagus

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

1 lemon, juiced

freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE EGGPLANT SALAD

2 eggplants, skinned and diced into ½ cm pieces

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and finely diced

1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 fresh jalapeño chilli, crushed to a paste

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

handful flat-leaf parsley

1 lemon, juiced

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat the barbecue to hot.

Break the tough ends off the asparagus. Mix the asparagus, a good splash of extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt in a bowl. Place asparagus on grill bars. Turn it from time to time to ensure a nice crust forms, and it gets some good grill marks all over. Cook for about 4 minutes.

Transfer asparagus to a plate, drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, pour over lemon juice and give a good grind of fresh pepper.

Steam eggplant in a steamer for 10 minutes, until soft and tender. Place in a bowl, add all the other salad ingredients, and mix.

Spoon the salad in the middle of 4 large plates, then place the asparagus spears across in 4 equal portions. Serve with delicious, crusty bread.