Spring into summer with a light, refreshing salad
Asparagus is a rather unique vegetable, with its elegant long green spears and lilac highlights shooting straight out of the earth. Distinctly but mildly flavoured, asparagus has a lovely bright green colour and retains its crispness when lightly blanched, as is done here.
Nutritionally, asparagus is rich in antioxidants and is a great low calorie source of folate, potassium and Vitamin C. To remove the fibrous end bend the stalk gently, starting from the base and working your way up until it snaps off easily.
Poaching the chicken in a lightly flavoured broth without actively simmering it ensures the lean breasts remain moist.
Ingredients (serves 2 as a light meal)
1 bay leaf
8 whole black peppercorns
1/8 small onion, cut into a wedge
2 small chicken breasts (about 200 g each)
1 bunch asparagus
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup mint, loosely packed
1/2 cup parsley leaves (the most delicate you can find)
1 tbsp Lime Grove chilli and lime seeded mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
rind of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp thin honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp finely chopped mint
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Place bay leaf, peppercorns, onion and 1/2 tsp salt in a saucepan that will fit the chicken snuggly. Fill with about 5 cm of cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off and immerse chicken breasts in the very hot water for 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and cut into the thickest part of the breast to check that chicken is cooked. Allow to cool a little then shred and season.
2. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and fill a mixing bowl with very cold water and a few ice cubes. Remove the fibrous base from the asparagus stalks and slice into 4cm lengths. Add to the pan of boiling water and cook for about 1 minute (allow 30 seconds more if its thick), drain and tip into the cold water.
3. To make the dressing, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice and rind, olive oil, honey, garlic, mint, salt and pepper. Add a little water to thin it out. Taste and correct seasoning.
4. To assemble, toss chicken, asparagus and most of the pine nuts in a wide bowl with dressing. Fold through most of the mint and parsley leaves. Arrange on plates and garnish with the remaining pine nuts, herbs and a generous amount of salt and pepper.