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Thursday 24 April 2014

Sluttishly Savoury: 'Planted' Asparagus Canapés

Asparagus doesn't stick around for long, so you want to appreciate it, nice and simple. Buttery hollandaise is the obvious pairing, but I prefer this cheats roast garlic aioli because you are at no risk of anything splitting. The crispy breadcrumb element comes from the Italian garnish known as pangrattato, which translates as 'poor mans Parmesan'.The Italians like to sprinkle this seasoned breadcrumb mix over pasta for a bit of crunch, but you can use it in anything. It also looks like sand, so the asparagus look like they've just been dug up - something I find thrilling.

If your not mad about asparagus you could serve most vegetables this way, as well as raw crudités.

Asparagus, Roast Garlic Aioli and Pangratatto Canapes (serves 4)
Preparation Time: 15mins
Cooking Time: 1 hour (for the garlic to roast)

You'll need:
  • the end of a knob of bread, cut into small cubes (I used stale brioche but any bread will work)
  • a bunch of asparagus
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
For the roasted garlic aioli: 
  • a whole bulb of garlic plus one extra clove
  • 200ml nice shop-bought mayonnaise 
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • salt, sugar and black pepper
Make it!
  1. Heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3. Slice the top off your whole garlic bulb (see picture), then douse in olive oil and salt. Cover with foil and bake for an hour or until soft. Allow to cool, then squeeze out the softened garlic from each clove. 
  2. Keeping the oven on, put your cubes of bread onto the same baking tray and bake for 20 mins. What you want is for the croutons to come out hard as a rock, with no softness as this makes them easier to blitz to a sandy texture. Blitz away to smithereens, then season.
  3. Blanch your asparagus in salty water for a couple of minutes, then plunge into icy water.
  4. For the aioli, blitz the mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, roast garlic and extra garlic clove (grated). Season with a pinch of salt, sugar and black pepper. 
  5. To serve, dip each asparagus end in the aioli, and then dip in your pangrattato! 

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