Savoury

Asparagus al Cartoccio with Blackberry Dijon sauce

Occasionally I receive a bag of free goodies as part of some promotion or another. But this box came filled with utter delight – a box of bursting blackberries, trimmed green asparagus and a rather large bag of shredded parmesan – in other words for me: ‘Christmas came early!’. The challenge with this box came from the Ahmedabad’s food power couple – Esha + Rohan of Foodaholics in Ahmedabad, in collaboration with a new brand called My Slyce – to make a recipe using all three ingredients – and from the minute I discovered my three, I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

Since the asparagus we get here aren’t exactly the nicest, thickest or juiciest, roasting directly on the pan. The way I like to cook asparagus like these is ‘al cortoccio’. Cooking ‘al cortoccio’ means cooking a foil or parchment paper in which the food item inside is cooked with its own steam and its own juice. This method is usually seen to prepare very delicate ingredients such as fish, shellfish and occasionally vegetables. This way the asparagus does not wilt away in direct steaming from water, nor shrivel while pan roasting or get lost in a baking tray. I like to keep it as simple as possible here – good old fashioned butter cubes, real lemon zest and salt. Packed like a mini gift, into the oven for 10 minutes, and when removed, slit open the parcel on the table, let the delicious whiffs of lemony butter encase your, sprinkle oodles of Parmesan on top and voila – I look super-duper cool (which you know I am far from) and I can make you feel like you are in a French countryside bed and breakfast.

To accompany this classic asparagus flavours, I made a blackberry sauce with the help of Dijon (remember, we are being transported to France!). this sauce is sweet, tart, savoury and all things francaise, and just a few drizzles on top of the buttery asparagus is a sheer connoisseur-like delight (and yet, you can do all this in less than 30 minutes – shhh….)

To serve alongside we recommend: Crispy Focaccia which requires no yeast and is as instant as they come. This too can be done within the hour. I know. I’m a genius – thank me later!

The Recipe
Serves

Ingredients

  • Asparagus al Cartoccio:
  • 10 asparagus, washed, trimmed, and cleaned dry (remove the v hard parts)
  • 5 cubes of butter (2 cm size each)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt
  • handful of Parmesan cheese
  • Blackberry Dijon Sauce:
  • 1 box of blackberries
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • salt + pepper

Instructions

  • Asparagus:
  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Take a long sheet of parchment paper and place the asparagus in the center
  • Place butter cubes on top, sprinkle salt and the zest on top
  • Take the long width part of the paper and bring the ends together, pinch together, roll down to pack the asparagus tight, and then fold the two ends to the back like you would a present to pack it in
  • Place on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes
  • Then gently tear open the parcel, keeping your face away as hot steam may burn you
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese and add a few dollops of blackberry Dijon sauce
  • Blackberry Dijon Sauce:
  • Cook blackberries with sugar for 10 minutes, adding a splash of water if necessary and mash
  • Then add all other items and cook 2 minutes, set aside, refrigerate
  • serve at room temperature or slightly chilled