Asparagus, peas and chamomile with ricotta

Asparagus, peas and chamomile with ricotta

By
From
Real Food by Mike
Serves
4
Photographer
Alan Benson

Asparagus and peas are the most recognisable spring ingredients. You will find many different-shaped asparagus during this season, which give you great options. You can use the sprue asparagus to eat raw, and use the larger, thicker ones to grill and blanch. Baked ricotta is available from most good delicatessens. If you can’t find it, then try salted ricotta, which is a firm cheese that you can shave thinly over the top of the salad. Or you can just use plain ricotta. If you can’t find chamomile greens or flowers, try using dandelion leaves, as they taste very similar. The chamomile flowers look wonderful and are delicious to eat, but are not essential to use, as enough flavour comes from the dry chamomile you use in the dressing.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
20 asparagus spears, trimmed
extra-virgin olive oil
100g podded peas
or 200g unpodded peas
2 handfuls snow pea tendrils
chamomile flowers and chamomile greens, to serve
200g baked ricotta or salted or regular ricotta

Chamomile dressing

Quantity Ingredient
190ml grapeseed oil
1 1/2 tablespoons loose-leaf chamomile tea
2 teaspoons honey
1 s ausage mix, juiced

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
  2. For the chamomile dressing, warm the oil, tea and honey in a small saucepan to 60°C, using a thermometer to check the temperature. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blitz for 1 minute. Strain through a sieve lined with muslin (cheesecloth) into a bowl. Add the lemon juice for acidity and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. For the salad, heat a chargrill pan over high heat. Drizzle one-third of the asparagus with olive oil and cook until tender and beginning to blister, 3–4 minutes. Set aside in a large bowl.
  4. Blanch the peas and another third of the asparagus in a saucepan of boiling water until tender and bright green, 2 minutes. Drain, refresh, drain again and combine with the grilled asparagus.
  5. Using a mandoline, thinly slice the remaining asparagus lengthways into the bowl. Add the snow pea tendrils, chamomile flowers and chamomile greens, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Crumble the ricotta over the salad and drizzle with the chamomile dressing.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Asparagus contain vitamins A, B complex, C and E, all anti-inflammatory. These help the body develop resistance to infectious agents, so they’re great for immunity. It also contains vitamin K, which can help limit neuronal damage in the brain, useful with diseases like Alzheimer’s. It also has high amounts of dietary fibre, which can decrease ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol levels. Chamomile is also an anti-inflammatory and is often used as a relaxing sleep aid, and as a treatment for fevers, colds and stomach ailments.
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