One of the simplest ways to welcome guests for a spring or summer lunch party is to arrange simple, salady things with an eye to colour and texture, and encourage grazing while the barbecue is heating up.
12 fat stalks asparagus
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp walnut oil
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Snap off the woody end of each asparagus stalk and trim the ends.
Bring a deep saute pan of water to simmering point and add the salt.
Lay the asparagus stalks in the water and simmer for about 4-5 minutes, depending on thickness. Have ready a plate lined with a clean cloth. When done, the tip of a sharp knife should just penetrate the asparagus stalk - it will continue to soften.
Remove asparagus to the cloth for a moment to drain and then to the shallow serving dish. While still hot, drizzle over the walnut and olive oils. Season lightly and shake the dish to blend the oils.
Tip: Do not add lemon juice or vinegar to the asparagus at this point as either will discolour the vegetable. If you wish, place small pieces of lemon in the dish for guests to add as they serve themselves.