Monday, May 14, 2007

Roasted Asparagus, Tomato and Haloumi

A true indicator of spring having irrevocably arrived is the mountains of english asparagus on the vegetable stalls at Borough. I find the fat green fingers irresistable for their promise of sunny days and the lovely flavour they deliver on the plate. Simple is best and most often we eat asparagus after nothing more than a gentle steaming and a dollop of butter - or with a fried duck egg if we are being fancy.

The restaurant where we ate en famille for my mother's birthday have an asparagus dish on the menu that my mother recommended most highly as she had started her meal with it the last time she had dined at The Lagoon. The asparagus was roasted and served with grilled haloumi and looked very pretty on the plate. Tempted to follow this example I wanted it to be a little more substantial to have it as a supper dish. So I bought lots of asparagus, thick stalks to give a greater ratio of flesh to skin, and some deep red plum tomatoes. Roasting tomatoes first creates the juice to roast the asparagus and both are wonderfully sweetened by the time in the oven. Grill the haloumi and its salty tang provides a good contrast. Served with crusty bread it was a seriously good repast.

Roasted Asparagus, Tomato and Haloumi
500g/1lb asparagus
8 ripe plum tomatoes
250g/1/2lb haloumi
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed
A few sprigs of thyme
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a low sided baking tray and scatter the garlic and thyme. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthways and add to the pan. Roast in a moderate oven - gas 4 - for 15 minutes. Snap the base off the asparagus spears and discard, unless you have a pan of stock to be made. Add the tender spears to the tomatoes and mix gently to combine. Add a little more oil if necessary then season with salt and pepper. Roast for a further 10-15 minutes till the spears are tender. Meanwhile slice and grill the haloumi till it catches slightly on the edges. Serve the tomato/asparagus melange onto warmed plates, top with haloumi and drizzle with the juices from the pan.

Serve with lots of crusty bread and follow with a little cheese for a complete supper. Perfect.

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