I invited some friends over for some supper and a TV premier the other week. Supper was good, three lovely fresh salads and honey and sunflower bread. The less said about the TV premier the better, it's new, it's on MTV, it's set in Newcastle, it's full of awful people...
I decided on my Mackerel and Horseradish Salad, without the eggs this time, and with crème fraiche instead of yoghurt, it's much creamier. I also made the Ottolenghi marinated Mozzarella and Tomato Salad.
The new addition to the salad club was an asparagus salad with manchego, toasted pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and a balsamic dressing. The toasty nuts go really well with the nutty asparagus, creamy nutty cheese and sweet sharp dressing.
Scatter a large plate with mixed leaves. In a dry frying pan toast a large handful of pumpkin seeds and a large handful of pine nuts until lightly toasted. Transfer them to a bowl and leave to cool a little. Crumble the cheese into small pieces over the leaves, about a handful per person.
To cook the asparagus fill a frying pan with about an inch of water, add a large pinch of salt and bring it to the boil. Snap the hard end from the bottom of the asparagus spears and add them to the boiling water, about 5 or 6 spears per person. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until soft, but with a bit of bite still.
Drain the asparagus spears and drizzle a little bit of olive oil over them. Place them onto the salad plate in amongst the cheese and salad. Scatter over the still warm seeds. Quickly mix a simple dressing of two parts olive oil, one part balsamic vinegar and some salad and pepper. Whisk it all up and drizzle over everything.