An extremely green Asparagus, Courgette and Pesto starter
By a long stretch, the Earth's favourite thing to do is to make stuff that's green. Tall trees, beady-eyed frogs, pot plants, slippery sea weed, grass hoppers, jungles and sparkly emeralds. Everything comes in green. Moss - carpeted forest floors, hedges manicured into poodle shapes, jade carved into buddhas and dragons. So the Earth would really like to come to a dinner party where this Asparagus and Courgette Rocket Pesto starter is served. It looks green and tastes green. The pesto recipe is adapted from a Michael Chiarello recipe on foodnetwork.com with less oil which makes it thicker.
For the pesto:
2 cups of wild rocket
1 garlic clove, minced
a sprinkling of salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup Parmesan, roughly grated on the big side of the grater
Prepare a bowl of ice cold water and set aside. Meanwhile bring a large pan of water to the boil. Put the rocket in a sieve and lower it into the boiling water, stirring it to make sure all the rocket is equally blanched, for about 15 seconds. Remove from the pan, shake off the excess water and plunge into the cold water, stirring again so it cools as fast as possible. Then drain it well, squeezing it with your hands till it's dry. Roughly chop it and put it in a blender (I did mine with a hand held soup blender).
Add the garlic, salt and pepper to taste, olive oil and pine nuts, and blend for 30 seconds. Add the cheese and combine briefly, so it remains chunky.
For the courgettes and asparagus:
Allow just under 1 courgette per person
Five spears of asparagus per person
Bring a griddle pan to a medium high heat and fry the courgette and asparagus in batches until the nice burn marks appear.
Assemble by laying the best looking courgette slices down first, then top with asparagus spears, and spoon the pesto over the top. Serve hot or cold.