The simplest of recipes to showcase the fresh new season's asparagus, this makes a lovely light start to a meal. A key component is the fabulous Wensum White goat's cheese made by Fielding Cottage in Norfolk. I hope they don't mind me taking a blowtorch to it.
You can of course use the goat's cheese of your choice but if you can get your hands on some Wensum White you won't regret it. It's a melt-in-your-mouth brie-style cheese and has won both a Silver and a Super Gold at the World Cheese Awards.
Goat's Cheese and Asparagus Sald (serves 4-6 as a starter)
1 log of Wensum White goat's cheese or equivalent
5 spears of asparagus per person
2 or 3 slices of good white bread, toasted
A handful of toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
For the vinaigrette:
3-4 tbsp olive oil
Juice of about 1/2 lemon
1 tspn Dijon mustard
1 tspn runny honey
Salt and pepper
Cut the cheese into 2cm slices, then using a cookie cutter, cut the cooled toasts to a shape and size the same diameter as the cheese. Mix the vinaigrette, whisking a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice with the honey and mustard, then adding oil until you have an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper and add more citrus juice or oil, to taste. It should be lemony.
Trim the asparagus by bending the stalks until they snap, discarding the woody ends. Cut the spears so they're all the same length. Any off-cuts can go into a soup. Bring a pan of water to a boil, add a little salt and cook the spears until just tender but still holding their shape. Drain and keep warm.
Place the cheese on the toasts and quickly brown the tops, using either a blowtorch or a very hot grill. Arrange on a plate with the asparagus spears, scatter with toasted hazelnuts and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve at once.