Saturday, 2 June 2012

Asparagus Twists

These puff pastry twists are quick & easy to make and are a new way to get the best out of the British asparagus season. Perfect for any Jubilee parties, picnics or lunches over the long weekend, these will be enjoyed by vegetarians & carnivores alike (tried & tested), and adding heaps of parmesan & freshly ground black pepper gives them a second dimension.

Will make 20-30, depending on how many asparagus spears you get per bunch. You'll need:
- One pack of ready-rolled puff pastry (you can make your own, but it's time consuming & pastry is one of the few things that shop-bought, isn't much different to home-made)
- two packs of asparagus
- fresh parmesan (never the pre-grated stuff, it's dry and tasteless)
- black pepper
- one egg
Preheat your oven to gas mark 7, (about 200°C), or a little lower if you're one of the lucky ones with a fan oven)

Start by unrolling your pastry onto a wooden board, discarding the hideous blue plastic wrapper. With a sharp knife, cut the pastry in half across the middle. Then cut into strips vertically, count your asparagus spears to determine how many strips you need.

Grate a pile of parmesan into the centre (as much as you like - the more the better) and then spread it around so it's evenly distributed across all the strips, & then grind black pepper over the entire sheet.

If by this point your pastry is a little warm (test this by trying to pull a strip off the board; if it sticks, its warm) then pop the board into the fridge for about half an hour. This makes it easier to wrap the spears without the pastry tearing. 

Prepare your asparagus by rinsing & drying, & then breaking the ends off. You'll then need to brush a little egg wash over both ends of each strip of pastry - this will help it stick in place once wrapped around the asparagus. 

Then just wrap the strips around the spears - the trick is to twist the spear, not the pastry, so the parmesan stays in place. They pastry strips will look too short to go around, but they'll stretch as you wrap them. I like to leave the very tips showing, to keep them looking pretty.

Give each one a coating of egg wash (this makes them a lovely golden brown colour), then assemble onto a baking tray.  

Bake for about 10 minutes, until they're the aforementioned golden brown colour.

I usually knock up a batch of Lorraine Pascale's incredibly easy sausage rolls while I'm at it - perfect for picnics, it'd be rude not to!

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