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Roasted asparagus with lemon grass, ginger and tea vinaigrette

message posted 03-May-08 10:14:10
Serves 4 as a starter

2 bunches of English asparagus, about 500g in total
8 long bay leaves
8 long thyme sprigs
30g butter, chilled and thinly sliced

For the lemon grass, ginger and tea vinaigrette
1 lemon grass stalk, trimmed and finely chopped
3cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp lemon verbena tea leaves
Finely pared zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
75ml strong black tea, strained
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
Pinch of sea salt
4 tbsp olive oil

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and have a bowl of iced water ready on the side. Trim the woody bases of the asparagus. Blanch in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Immediately refresh in the iced water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Cut the bay leaves into skinny strips, cutting out the stems. Using a sharp knife, make four slits at intervals along the length of each asparagus spear. Thread the slits with strips of bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Heat the grill to the highest setting.

Next, make the vinaigrette. Put all the ingredients into a pan and bring to a simmer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the vinaigrette into a small teapot or jug.

Meanwhile, scatter the remaining bay-leaf strips on to a large baking sheet and place the threaded asparagus spears on top. Season. Top with the sliced butter and grill for 5-6 minutes. Transfer to warm serving plates. Strain the dressing over the grilled asparagus and serve immediately.

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