Every Sunday I visit mamma for lunch and give her a quick call before leaving home. Often it is to ask if she needs any shopping done but also to give her my estimated time of arrival – she loves being prepared! Last Sunday, for a number of reasons mainly to do with my new website (and the realisation that my blog posts were no longer appearing in the WordPress Reader of my subscribers), I forgot to ring her. Mark drove the car as I worked on my iPhone, trying to find a solution. By the time we arrived outside mamma’s house, I realised that I had not called her. I knocked on the door and the first thing she greeted me with was “non ti me gha telefonado, non gho preparado niente per pranzo” (you didn’t ring me, I haven’t prepared anything for lunch), she remarked in dismay. It was however still only 11.30am, so I apologised then searched through the fridge for ingredients. She had vegetable soup she’d made a few days ago, cheeses, prosciutto and a large bag of asparagus. I told her to sit down and relax – I would be making lunch today.
One of the things I love best about Spring is the wonderful produce – asparagus being one of my favourite. Mamma loves it too and although we generally make a risotto with it, I had something else in mind for today. I love asparagus that looks a bit uneven, with thick stalks and you buy by the kilo (rather than in little expensive perfect bunches). A couple of months ago I found it at the green grocer near mamma’s house – and the sign said “from Mexico”. Asparagus flown half way across the world so we can ignore seasons, eat a vegetable that cannot be fresh and ignore the environmental cost of transport. Utter madness!
This is the simplest of recipes – so delicious but looks quite impressive. I lightly steam the whole asparagus spears, toss them in olive oil, garlic and lemon zest, then wrap prosciutto around them and bake them. It is important to have thicker asparagus spears as that way they retain their shape whilst cooking. The saltiness of the prosciutto is a perfect contrast to the asparagus – and it is such a colourful dish. Mamma held the tray for me whilst I took a photo – I am sure that not many people can say that their 87 year old mother helps out with photos for blog posts! She told me that she used to make a similar dish years ago. Although these are antipasti/appetisers, we ate them as a main, with a big green salad, followed by bread and Asiago cheese – a lovely light spring lunch.
Now back to my new website and its transition to a self-hosted platform. If you are a WordPress subscriber, my posts will no longer appear in your Reader unless you re-subscribe to my blog. You will then be able to view then via your web browser from the Reader. It is an additional step compared to before – please let me know if you have any problems. I do hope you enjoy the simple recipe below.
asparagus prosciutto wraps
Bunch thick asparagus spears, woody tips removed
Prosciutto, thinly sliced (same number of slices as there are asparagus spears)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
one lemon, zest only
salt and pepper to taste
thinly shaved parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 200C and line a rectangular tin with baking paper. Steam the asparagus for a couple of minutes then refresh in cold water. The spears should still be quite firm. Place a good plug of olive oil, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste in a shallow dish and stir with a spoon to combine. Using tongs, drag the asparagus spears one at a time through the oil mixture so that they collect some of the herbs, lemon zest and garlic, then wrap each spear in a slice of prosciutto. Put the spears on the lined tray next to each other and scatter on the parmesan. Place the tray in the top shelf of the oven and cook for about 10-12 minutes until the prosciutto is crisp and the parmesan has melted. Scatter on extra parsley to serve and drizzle on a bit more EVOO. Buon appetito!