Grilled Asparagus and Smoked Romesco Sauce by Roy Brett of Ondine

Every year, the anticipation of the first asparagus of the season creates a great buzz in kitchens all over the country. Seeing the tiny green spears peeping out of the earth is a sign of the colours and vibrancy that we’re soon going to be able to cook with. In Cornwall and St. Enodoc, asparagus is now in season and Wye Valley asparagus from Lincolnshire is already available in shops and farmers markets.

At Ondine, we aim to maximise the celebration of this unique ingredient in many different ways. From simple recipes to the more complex, the joy of asparagus is that the subtle, yet robust flavour can be an ideal match with many accompaniments. With a variety of complementary flavours to choose from, I have a lot of favourites. From simply steaming the asparagus and serving it with a zingy lemon hollandaise to making a smooth asparagus volute which I like to enhance with wild garlic.

This recipe is a real favourite of mine. The romesco sauce has a smoky warmth to it and the ancho chilli amplifies the flavour of the asparagus. You might not think of pairing asparagus with spice, but the flavours are incredible together and it gives us another way to appreciate this special, seasonal produce. The asparagus season is so short-lived that we need to ensure we make the most of it.

To get your chillies, it’s worth going to a good Mexican deli like Lupe Pintos in Glasgow on Great Western Road or Leven Street in Edinburgh. They have the most incredible variety of Mexican produce and you’ll be able to find a whole host of wonderful and authentic foods. It’s also important to speak with the experts that work in these specialised shops as you can pick up cooking tips and find out about ingredients you might have never heard of or used before.

This dish is great as the weather gets warmer and we look for delicate spring dishes to enjoy. It’s lovely and light yet the sauce packs a punch of flavour to delight the senses of your guests. You can also adjust the recipe to your own tastes by adding a little more or less chilli depending on how much heat you like. For me, this is the perfect dish to enjoy outside on a sunny Sunday lunchtime with family and friends.

Ondine is located at 2 George IV Bridge in Edinburgh. For more information or to book your table, visit https://www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk/.

Serves 4 Very Happy People

Ingredients:

For the romesco sauce:

50g dried ancho chillis, pre-soaked and then drained

80g smoked almonds

80g wholemeal bread

200g vine tomatoes, chopped

40ml rapeseed oil

30ml sherry vinegar

1 lemon, juice only

Salt and pepper, for seasoning

For the asparagus:

1kg asparagus

80ml rapeseed oil

Salt and pepper, for seasoning

To serve:

Handful of flaked almonds

1 lime, cut into quarters

Salt and pepper, for seasoning

Method:

1. The night before, make the romesco sauce. Place all of the ingredients except the lemon juice and seasoning in a mixing bowl. Mix well together and then add the lemon juice and seasoning to suit your own tastes. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to infuse.

2. On the day of serving, finish the sauce. Blend all the ingredients together in an electric food processor. Set the sauce aside and leave it to stand at room temperature until you’re ready to serve.

3. Next, prep the asparagus by simply cutting away the woody stalk. You won’t need to peel the asparagus as it is very tender. Brush the asparagus in the rapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper and then place on a baking tray. Set the grill at 180°C and place the asparagus under the grill. After a minute turn the asparagus over and repeat the process. At this point, asparagus should be just slightly caramelised. Remove the tray from the grill and aside.

4. To serve, spoon the romesco sauce onto the serving plates and then add the asparagus. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and serve with a wedge of lime.