Asparagus

English asparagus will be around for about 6 weeks, and at the beginning of the season it will be tender enough to use every part of the spears; but as the weeks go on it will become a little more woody, so you will need to take off the lower, white parts. In this salad the spelt adds a little texture and nuttiness, but you can leave it out, if you like.

Asparagus, Spelt, Pea & Mint Salad

INGREDIENTS (SERVES 6)
300g pearled spelt
2 bunches of slender asparagus
300g fresh or frozen peas
1 small bunch of fresh mint, roughly chopped
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 large lemons (roughly 5 tablespoons)
1 handful of pea shoots

METHOD
Half fill a medium saucepan with water, add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, and bring to the boil. Stir in the spelt and return to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the spelt is just tender, stirring occasionally, then drain through a sieve under running water until cold. Drain well, then tip into a large serving bowl or platter.

While the spelt is cooking, cut the asparagus into 4cm lengths on the diagonal. Half fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the asparagus and bring back to the boil. Immediately take off the heat (you want the asparagus to be quite crisp), drain in a colander under running water until completely cold, and add to the spelt.

Cook the peas in the same way if frozen (if fresh they will need to simmer for about 5 minutes, until tender), and when cold add them to the spelt and asparagus, with the mint, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice, and toss well together. Season to taste and toss very lightly again. Scatter the pea shoots over the salad, fold in gently and serve.