Asparagus and Almonds in Filo

To suggest at the beginning of the English asparagus season, which opens in early May, that you might cook and eat this silky, green delicacy, long awaited through winter and spring, any other way than quickly boiled or steamed until just tender, and then served warm, dressed in nothing more than a little good oil or butter and lemon juice, would be seen by some as sacrilege. But once the asparagus season is in full swing, the shops are full of it, and it is so easy to get carried away, buy too much, and then find it a few days later looking somewhat fridge-worn. This is a good recipe for such times.

Ingredients

  • 5 oz / 140 g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 lb / 455 g asparagus, trimmed and blanched
  • 4 oz / 110 g flaked almonds, toasted
  • 6 tbsp single cream
  • 4 oz / 110 g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 sheets filo pastry

Method

Make the filling first. Melt 1 oz / 30 g of the butter and fry the onion until softened. Cut the asparagus into 1 in / 2.5 cm. pieces, and fry briefly with the onion without letting it colour. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the almonds, cream and cheese. Season to taste, and cool. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter and preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Mark 6. Lay one sheet of filo pastry on a work surface. Cover the remaining sheets with a clean, damp cloth. Brush the first sheet with melted butter and cover with a second. Brush with melted butter again, and repeat with the remaining three sheets. Spread the asparagus filling over the pastry, leaving a 1 in / 2.5 cm.border around the edge. Fold in the two shorter sides and then roll up. Carefully brush with the remaining butter, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 180°C / 350°F / Mark 4, and cook for a further 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.

Variation

Halve the amount of asparagus, and substitute 8oz / 230g diced, cooked chicken breast for the almonds.