Nicky Riemer, from Union Dining in Melbourne's Richmond, serves this lively grilled asparagus dish as a summery entree.
12-16 asparagus stems
80g blanched almonds, lightly roasted and rough chopped
1 punnet of chickpea shoots (see note below)
50ml saba (vin cotto or grape must)
extra virgin olive oil
50g pecorino, for grating
6 small sweet tomatoes
2 long red chillies
2 medium red peppers
60g hazelnuts, lightly roasted and peeled
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
10g sweet smoked Spanish paprika
50ml sherry vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
50ml extra virgin olive oil
1. To make the romesco sauce, cook tomatoes, chillies and peppers on a hot, lightly oiled grill plate, turning frequently, until the skins are blackened and blistering. The tomatoes will be done quickly, but the chilli and peppers may take about 15 minutes.
2. Cool the tomatoes, peppers and chillies to room temperature, then peel, deseed and roughly chop.
3. Process the hazelnuts in a blender until finely ground, then add the chopped pepper mix, garlic, paprika, vinegar, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and process until all well combined. If too thick you can add more olive oil. Season with salt and set romesco sauce aside in refrigerator until needed.
4. To cook the asparagus wipe down grill plate and bring to high heat. Rub asparagus in a little olive oil and salt, then cook on the hot grill for about four minutes until all sides have grill marks but the asparagus still feels firm. Remove and set aside.
5. To serve, generously spoon the stracciatella and romesco sauce on to a platter, then add the asparagus, garnish with chopped almonds, chickpea shoots, then drizzle over saba and extra virgin olive oil. Finish with grated pecorino.
Note: If you can't get chickpea shoots, rocket or even basil would be a nice substitution.