Asparagus served in the classic way is delicious, but I wanted to mix the flavours of the spring with the warmer flavours and textures of the summer. I’ve spiced things up a little with the slight smokiness that comes from griddling or barbecuing asparagus, a large sprinkling of smoked paprika and a hint of chilli.
For the paprika dressing
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp lemon juice
For the hard-boiled eggs and grilled asparagus
- 2 free-range eggs
- 20 green asparagus spears, woody ends removed
- 90–120 ml (3–4 fl oz) refined olive oil
For the vegetable crumble
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 80 g (3 oz) (about 2½) baby zucchini (courgettes), pulsed in a food processor for 30 seconds
- 80 g (3 oz) cauliflower, pulsed in a food processor for 30 seconds
- 30 g (1 oz) banana shallot, finely chopped
- ½ red chilli, finely chopped
- 3 large pinches of smoked paprika
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 10 g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 5 g chives, chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the paprika dressing, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
For the hard-boiled eggs and grilled asparagus, using a spoon, slide the eggs gently into a small pan of water. Bring to a simmer for 13 minutes, then remove the eggs and immediately run them under cold water. While still warm, peel the eggs then transfer to the fridge. Once cold, separate the whites from the yolks and coarsely grate each part (keep them separated), then set aside.
Lay 5 asparagus spears side by side and secure them together using two metal skewers (thread a skewer through each end of the asparagus, avoiding the tips, so that the spears are kept straight). Repeat with the remaining asparagus. Blanch in a large saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes, then immediately plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking. Dry well (leave them on the skewers).
To cook the asparagus, heat a griddle pan over a high heat. Brush the skewered spears lightly with olive oil. When the pan is hot, lay the asparagus in it, flat, and leave for 3 minutes to gain deep griddle marks. Turn over using tongs and griddle for another 3 minutes. (If necessary do the griddling in batches; simply keep the asparagus warm in an oven preheated to 80°C (60°C fan-forced/gas ¼) while you grill the remaining asparagus.)
For the vegetable crumble, in a large frying pan or sauté pan over high heat, add the olive oil and fry the zucchini, cauliflower, shallot, chilli, paprika and a pinch of salt for 30 seconds. Add 80 ml (3 fl oz) water, the lemon juice, parsley, chives and grated egg white. Boil for 5 seconds then remove from the heat. Stir in the egg yolk and check the seasoning.
To serve, put a spoonful of the vegetable crumble in the centre of each plate and arrange a stack of the grilled asparagus on top. Finish with a drizzle of the paprika dressing.
See more from Raymond Blanc in Royal Gardens On A Plate, on SBS and SBS On Demand.