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Farfalle: Asparagus & Bacon

30 Apr

This is a seriously simple and very tasty pasta dish making good use of this season’s crop of asparagus. Bacon, as we know it in England, does not really exist in France but there are many kinds of lardons available, chopped pieces of raw cured pork. This recipe uses unsmoked lardons which is the nearest to cured English or Danish bacon.

Serves 2 Prep & Cook 15 minutes

* 150-200g fresh asparagus spears
* 2 portions of pasta shapes ( I use a small bowl to measure out our portions).
* 1-2 tbsp olive oil
* 100g bacon cut into matchsticks
* 2 large cloves garlic, sliced
* 1/2 small onion
* 1 hot red chilli
* black pepper (to taste)
* Handful fresh herbs (to taste)
* parmesan grated (to taste)

Heat a large pan of salted water and when boiling drop in the pasta, cook for 8-12 minutes until just cooked, drain. Meanwhile wash and chop the asparagus into bite sized pieces, mince the onion, slice the garlic and slice the chilli (removing the seeds) and chop the bacon if it is not already chopped. Wash the herbs (I used marjoram and wild rocket but you could use parsley or any other herb you like) and chop roughly.

Heat the oil in a wide pan, a wok is good, add the bacon and fry until beginning to brown add the onion, garlic and chilli and fry for a few minutes until the onion softens. Add the cooked pasta, a crunch of two of black pepper, and the fresh herbs, stir well to mix. Serve scattered with freshly grated parmesan.

This recipe was originally posted on on 30/4/2007.


Asparagus Salads

29 Apr

Fresh Asparagus makes a great salad served as a side dish or starter either warm or cold. Here are few variations of the Asparagus salads we eat here at Mas du Diable.

For all salads use the freshest Asparagus possible. Wash and remove any woody ends and cook lightly.

Grilled Asparagus
Lay asparagus spears in a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, roll in cracked black pepper and sea salt and then lift out and lay crossways on a hot barbecue griddle for a few minutes to grill see picture above. Its ready when the asparagus turns a brighter green and the griddle marks appear, don’t over do it, the spears should be fresh and just barely cooked. Return to serving dish, sprinkle with lemon or bitter orange juice and serve.

Kays Garlic Asparagus
Rachel’s mum makes this salad as a starter and i love it. Really one for garlic lovers.
Boil asparagus, standing upright in lightly salted water for 5-10mins. Meanwhile in a shallow serving dish mix 3 tbsp olive oil with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar a pinch each of cracked black pepper and crushed sea salt and 1-2cloves mashed garlic. When the asparagus is ready drain and tip immediately into the dressing roll around to coat and leave to cool. Serve with bread to mop up the garlicky juices.

Asparagus with Chervil
Chervil is one of the French Fines Herbs and is used extensively in french cooking. It is a little like flat leaf parsley but has a more delicate texture and taste with a slightly aniseed flavour. Boil in the same way as above and roll in a sauce made with Olive oil, lemon juice, chopped chervil and a pinch each of cracked black pepper and crushed sea salt.
Original post  29/5/2006

Beef, Lime & Asparagus Sauté

18 Apr

This is a Thai inspired stir fry of fresh spring asparagus with beef and kaffir lime leaves. Asparagus picked straight from the garden is superb stir fried, the quick fire cooking just brings out the flavour of the vegetable. You can use any crisp green vegetable such as green beans, mangetout or snap peas, asparagus, broccoli or chayote with equally good results.

Serves 2 Prep 15min Cook 15mins

  • 1 tbsp light vegetable or peanut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2-3 fresh hot red chillis
  • 150g beef steak
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 2-4 fresh lime leaves
  • 4 tbsp stock or water
  • asparagus, green beans, mangetout peas or other crisp green vegetables.
  • pinch of sugar

Prepare all the ingredients in advance, so they are ready because the cooking pace is very fast and hands on. For the rice noodles follow the instructions on the packet to cook, drain, then set aside until ready to use.
Slice the beef into very thin strips, add a dash of soy sauce and set aside. Finely chop the garlic, spring onion and chilli, slice the lime leaves very finely, cut the vegetable diagonally, measure out the liquid seasonings and set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan and when it is really hot add the oil and throw in the garlic, stir fry for one minute before adding the chilli and beef strips and stir fry for another minute or two. Add the vegetables and lime leaves and stir fry over a high heat for one minute then add the soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and stock continue cooking for one or two minutes. Serve immediately on a bed of rice noodles or plain rice.

TIP if the rice noodles stick together run warm water through them and move around gently with your hands to loosen.
Recipe Source My pot Kaffir lime tree started to produce new soft growth and I thought it would be fun to experiment with cooking with the leaves. This recipe just emerged because I wanted to use the fresh flavours of Kaffir Lime leaves with the spring harvest of Asparagus which was in full swing.

Asparagus & Cashew Pullao

10 Apr

I had some left over cooked basmati rice a while back and I wanted to make something fresh and delicious with it, this is what I came up with. It worked beautifully with this seasons fresh asparagus and made a perfect foil for the many Indian style pickles and chutneys I make.

* 1 medium onion
* 3-4 spears asparagus, cut into bite size pieces.
* 1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)
* handful of cashew nuts
* 1 tsp mustard seeds
* 1/2 tsp masala powder (cardamom seed, cumin, salt, black pepper, clove)
* 1/4 tsp turmeric
* chilli powder to taste
* 3 cups basmati rice, cooked
* 1 fresh green chilli, thinly sliced
* Fresh green herbs coriander, mint and garlic chives.

Make the masala powder and set aside. Peel and dice the onion. Put a little vegetable oil in a large wide pan and add the onion. Fry until starting to colour then add the asparagus and fry for a minute or two. Add the coconut, cashews, all the spices and fry for a few more minutes. Add the fresh chilli, cooked rice and stir well to mix. Stir in the fresh herbs and serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or a yogurt sauce and an Indian style pickle. See Indian Recipes

The ingredients can be varied to use whatever vegetables are in season, in the summer months it works equally well with batons of fried courgette. For those who are fond of seafood this dish is absolutely delicious with some cooked crab meat stirred through it before serving.

This recipe was originally posted on on 10/04/2009.