Asparagus and Grilled Red Pepper Salad with Pine Kernels

This salad makes a perfect first course, arranged on individual plates. If you like, you can grill the asparagus instead of steaming it.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium red peppers
  • 450 g/1 lb thin green asparagus
  • 25 g/1 oz pine kernels

For the vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon strained lemon juice
  • finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons clear honey
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Method

Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds and stems. Put them, skin-sides up, under a hot grill until the skin has blackened. Then wrap in a plastic bag or tin foil and leave on one side — this will make them easy to peel.

Unless they look coarse, cut only about 1.25cm/½ in off the asparagus stalks. Steam or boil them until just tender, then rinse immediately with cold water to cool and stop the cooking.

Put a dry frying pan over a high heat, add the pine kernels and stir for about a minute until toasted brown. Turn out of the pan and leave to cool. Peel the skin off the red peppers and, using a sharp knife, cut them lengthways into thin strips.

When ready to assemble the salad, arrange the asparagus on 4 serving plates, crossed with strips of pepper and sprinkled with toasted pine kernels. Put all the vinaigrette ingredients except the salt and pepper into a jam jar. Seal with a lid and shake vigorously to mix, then add salt and pepper to taste, just before serving, shake the jar again and spoon the dressing evenly over the salad.

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