At lunch today we had the wedding breakfast tasting and discussion with the chef, which resulted in us filling up completely and actually having to take a doggy bag! Luckily I managed to go for a run this morning... So this evening, we wanted something very light and refreshing. The asparagus season is in full swing and it's possible to pick up huge bunches for £2-£3 in the market, so a purchase yesterday makes a full meal today. We round out the savoury, green flavour with lots of different kinds of tomatoes, and some mellow mozzarella cheese. And a hunk of stale bread is given new life as crunchy garlic croutons. Perfect spring fare!
- 2 slices of bread
- 1 small clove of garlic
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- One large or two small bunches of asparagus
- 300g of tomatoes, preferably of several different varieties
- a generous handful of spinach leaves
- a generous handful of basil leaves
- a ball of mozzarella
- 4 rashers of cooked bacon, or pancetta
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp grain mustard
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Cut the slices of bread into rough cubes and place in a baking tray or dish. Crush in the garlic clove (a little goes a very long way here) and drizzle over 2 tbsp of the olive oil; it helps if one person drizzles as the other tosses the bread, or you may end up with unbalanced oil distribution. Place in the hot oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.
Snap the asparagus (or peel the lower half if you're sure your stems aren't bitter), and steam for five minutes, removing promptly and running under cold water to halt the cooking. Slice the tomatoes into different shapes, making sure that the seeds stay in. Tear the spinach leaves, basil leaves and mozzarella into a salad bowl, then add the tomatoes, bacon or pancetta, and cooked asparagus. Shake up the remaining olive oil, vinegars and mustard in a little jar, season well and pour over the salad. Toss and top with the crunchy croutons and serve immediately.