Recipes from food stylist Nicolas Ghirlando: Fish fingers to Friday nights.

Don’t throw those bloody spears at me.

Char-grilled asparagus, crisp Parma ham, toasted almonds, parsley and lemon with fresh tagliatelle

I’m not sure how at the end of every day the house looks as if we’ve been running an army field kitchen, the laundry basket has repopulated itself as if the clothes love each other very much. And dust tumbleweeds seem to have blown in from the American Midwest.

The children only get home from after school club after five in the evening so that gives them two hours to wreak Armageddon. And that’s not even mentioning their ability to remove every single toy, book, pen and loom band from their room in the search for a single piece of Lego or suchlike.

And among all this we need to eat. I’ve been getting back after long days shooting this week, so meals have been as simple as possible. Tuesday was baked potato with cheese and a salad. One evening we had grilled peach, mozzarella and mixed leaves. Another, rare for us, was a horrible Thai takeaway, which was a mistake and reinforced our belief that takeaways are generally disappointing, best avoided and it’s much quicker to even just have some spaghetti with butter and cheese. Never again. I’d rather just have ham and egg on toast.

The best meal this week was asparagus pasta. Maya and I made fresh tagliatelle on the weekend and there was plenty left over. Obviously, for this to be a quick meal, you need to have the pasta made or bought. Up to you.

The asparagus, first blanched then grilled on a skillet, dressed with lemon juice, parsley, good olive oil and toasted almond flakes was tossed through the pasta with shards of Parma ham, cooked until crisp and then shattered. A handful of Parmesan cheese grated over, a twist of pepper, a pinch more of Maldon salt and another drizzle of oil and we eat. As shattered as the ham.

Ingredients for two
A bunch of asparagus tips
Zest and juice of a lemon
About 4-6 slices of Parma ham
A handful of parsley (flat leaf or curly, up to you)
Excellent olive oil (it really does make a difference)
A handful of flaked almonds
200g fresh tagliatelle (or dry, or other long pasta)

Method
Blanch the asparagus for a minute in boiling water then drain and season.
Heat the skillet until very hot, dress the asparagus in a little olive oil and char until stripy. Keep warm somewhere.
Cook the pasta in boiling, heavily salted water until al dente then drain and dress with more olive oil (It’s good for you) in a large bowl. Meanwhile, crisp the ham on the skillet and toast the almonds, perhaps in a dry frying pan if there’s no space.
Chop the parsley, mix everything together in the bowl, season again to taste and serve.

2 Responses to “Don’t throw those bloody spears at me.”

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