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Grilled Asparagus & Warm Black Rice Salad, Broad Beans, Confit Tomatoes, Lemon & Garlic Dressing

Grilled Asparagus & Warm Black Rice Salad, Broad Beans, Confit Tomatoes,  Lemon & Garlic Dressing

OK, so this recipe is a bit cheffy but it tastes amazing and although there is a little bit of preparation to do here, it's super easy and well worth the effort. English asparagus is in season now, so make the most of this prized vegetable.

The black rice takes about 35-40 minutes to cook, it's grown in Italy and like wild rice, it has a slightly chewy 'al dente' texture with subtle nutty and vanilla flavours. It's the perfect foil for the assertive flavour of asparagus and with some sweet preserved tomatoes, crisp radish, soft broad beans, fresh herbs and a delicious garlic and lemon dressing, this dish is a total winner.

Cooking is more relaxing when things can be prepared beforehand. This rice salad can be served warm - not piping hot, so all you have to do is cook the asparagus and plate up - no stress. The lemony garlic dressing is quick and simple to bring together with a couple of egg yolks, some oil and a whisk. The creamy dressing is perfect with the asparagus - it's sort of a cross between cold hollandaise and mayonnaise.

Whilst the fresh Asparagus is the star of the dish, the black rice salad would also work really well served under some pan fried sea bass, lemon sole or any white fish.

Serves 4 as a main course
For the Black Rice Salad
250g Black Rice
500ml Cold Water
1 x Red Onion, finely chopped
1 x Bunch of Fresh Parsley, picked and chopped
1 x Jar Semi Dried Tomatoes, roughly chopped
2tbsp Salted Capers, washed, soaked and roughly chopped
½ Bunch Fresh Dill, picked
200g Frozen Broad Beans, blanched and podded (or Edamame Beans)
100g Radishes, sliced
Sea Salt

For the dressing
2 x Egg Yolks
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1tsp English Mustard
250ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
A good pinch of Sea Salt
3-4tbsps Cold Water

For the Asparagus
1kg Fresh Asparagus
A drizzle of Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil
A pinch of Sea Salt

1. The black rice will take a while to cook, so get this on first. In the ingredients list I've given some rice and water measurements, but essentially I used a builder's mug of rice with 2¼ times the amount of water. Wash the rice under running water, bring the water to the boil with a good pinch of salt, add in the rice, put a lid on, turn down the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes.

2. To make the dressing, separate the egg yolks into a bowl, add the garlic, mustard, salt and white wine vinegar. Now slowly pour in the oil whilst whisking everything together. It's a good ideas to place a tea towel under you bowl to stop it moving around on the worktop. You are basically making an 'emulsion' which will thicken as you add the oil. In this recipe we want a dressing consistency, so as the mixture thickens, add in a tablespoon of cold water and then continue with the oil. The water will not only loosen the mixture up, it will also help to stabilize the emulsion. Once you've added all the oil, squeeze in the lemon juice. If you think you're mix is too thick, add in an extra tablespoon of water - you are aiming for double cream consistency.

3. Wash the capers under cold running water and then leave to soak for at least 15 minutes. If you can, change the water a couple of times.

4. Blanch the broad beans in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, drain and then cool under cold water. This bit is a slight faff but I love double podded broad beans, they look like green jewels and taste amazing. Pinch the skin of the broad bean to make a slit and squeeze out the bright green centre.

4. Pick the herbs, slice the radish and dice up the red onion.

5. The rice should absorb most of the water that you've cooked it in, so after half an hour, check that the pan hasn't dried out and that the rice is tender. It should need 5 to 10 more minutes, but it should have an 'al dente' bite to it.

6. If you have a ridged chargrill pan, start heating it up, otherwise use a frying pan. Drizzle some rapeseed oil over the asparagus to give them a thin, even coating and sprinkle over a little sea salt.

7. Once the rice has cooked, transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add in the chopped red onion, capers, most of the chopped parsley and dill, half the semi dried tomatoes and half the broad beans. You want to reserve a few of these ingredients to decorate around the plate (yes, I'm being cheffy here). Add in a couple of tablespoons of the dressing, mix and keep to one side.

8. Grilled the asparagus for 2-3 minutes, turning them half way through.

9. To plate up, spoon on a pile of the black rice salad, scatter a few sliced radishes around the rice with some extra broad beans, chopped up tomatoes and herbs. Place a generous portion of the grilled asparagus on top and spoon over some more of the dressing. 

Enjoy! And foodies, don't forget to tag us on instagram or Facebook if you make this at home.

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