Recipe

Spring salad

by Jenny Chandler

The perfect light lunch dish

So many locally-grown treats come into the Market in late spring: asparagus, new potatoes, radishes, wild garlic, baby broad beans, pea shoots. This salad embraces the lot and makes the perfect light lunch dish. Purple asparagus is particularly sweet and so works well both raw or cooked. The spears lose their distinctive colour as you cook them—another reason to leave some raw. Sweeter tips are carefully shaved into long curls with a potato peeler while the thicker stalks are blanched quickly, giving them quite a different texture and flavour. The salad can be served cold, but warm potatoes make all the other flavours ping. For a stunning vegetarian take, just drop the prosciutto and add 1 tbsp light miso to the potatoes along with the oil, giving it savoury depth, then throw in some toasted hazelnuts for texture.

Ingredients

100g prosciutto, sliced finely
100ml extra virgin olive oil
500g new potatoes, halved if larger than bite-sized
A sprig of mint
300g purple asparagus
200g baby broad beans
8 quail’s eggs
75g pea shoots
A small handful of wild garlic
12 radishes, finely sliced
Juice of 1 lemon

Method

Heat the oven to 170C. Place the prosciutto on a lightly oiled baking tray and cook in the oven for 10 mins, then leave to cool and crisp up. The ham should become really brittle as it cools—if not, just return to the oven for a few mins. Break into shards (if making ahead, store in an airtight container).

Boil the potatoes in salted water with the sprig of mint until tender, then drain. Toss with the extra virgin olive oil. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Remove any woody tips, chop off about 5cm of the stalk ready for steaming or boiling and sliver the top of the spears into ribbons using a potato peeler.

If you have a steamer basket, you can steam the asparagus stalks over the potatoes for about 5 mins until tender, otherwise you can cook them in boiling water for about 3 mins. Drain and plunge into cold water to refresh and keep their colour.

Steam or blanch the broad beans until just tender and pop them from their skins. Cook the quail’s eggs in boiling water for 2½ mins, tip them into cold water, then peel. Wash and spin the pea shoots and garlic leaves and place in a large salad bowl, keeping back a few leaves to top the dish.

Add the sliced radishes, the cooked asparagus, asparagus ribbons, the broad beans, the warm potatoes and the lemon juice. Turn everything together, taking care not to break up the potatoes. Season with a little salt (don’t forget that the ham will be salty) and plenty of black pepper.

Slice the eggs in half and scatter over the salad along with the shards of crispy prosciutto and the last few leaves to garnish.

Recipe: Jenny Chandler
Image: Kim Lightbody