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Asparagus and beef involtini with heirloom cherry tomatoes.

Asparagus royale

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While its crisp, crunchy spears have long been coveted by royalty the world over, asparagus is a no-fuss prolific crop that makes for some tasty modern-day fare, say PHIL DUDMAN and JULIE RAY.

Asparagus and beef involtini* with heirloom cherry tomatoes; Serves 6-8

* Involtini simply means a dish that is rolled or stuffed.


4 red capsicums, quartered

8 white asparagus

8 green asparagus

500g sirloin, cut into 8 fine slices and flattened (thickness of a schnitzel steak – ask your butcher to do this)

8 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half

16 slices Jarlsberg cheese

16 rosemary sprigs

40g butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

4 tablespoons Marsala

250g punnet heirloom cherry tomatoes


Preheat the grill to high. Grill capsicums, skin-side up, for 5-7 minutes until skin is charred and blistered. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel capsicums and set side.

Wash asparagus and remove the woody ends (hold each spear at both ends and bend it gently. It will snap at its natural breaking point). Bring a large, deep frying pan of water to the boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for 1-2 minutes or until tender crisp. Refresh under cold running water, then drain and set aside.

Cut each slice of sirloin in half crossways. Sprinkle upper side of beef with sea salt and ground black pepper. Lay a slice of prosciutto, a piece of cheese, and a quarter capsicum. Place a green asparagus spear in the centre, running across the shortest width with the tip slightly overhanging the beef at one end. Place a white asparagus spear alongside, but with its tip over-hanging the other end. Roll up firmly, lay a sprig of rosemary on top, then tie with kitchen string. Repeat with remaining beef slices to create 16 parcels.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil in a large frying pan. Roll parcels in the seasoned flour, then fry over a low heat for about 10 minutes, turning frequently, until golden and tender. Transfer to a hot serving dish and keep warm.

Add the Marsala, 3 tablespoons of water and the remaining butter to the pan and bring to the boil quickly. Simmer for a few minutes, scraping up any bits on the base of the pan. Season to taste, then spoon over the beef rolls. Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized frying pan over a high heat. Add the remaining olive oil and the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the tomatoes, gently moving them around the pan, for 5 minutes or until softened.


Chargrilled asparagus with baked spinach and eggs; Serves 4

Runny, baked eggs are a delicious dip for grilled asparagus.


melted butter, for greasing

150g baby spinach leaves, washed well and dried

pinch ground nutmeg

? cup Parmesan cheese, grated

4 eggs

1 tablespoon cream

8 green asparagus, trimmed

8 white asparagus, trimmed

olive oil, to brush on

¼ cup combined flat-leafed parsley and dill, chopped

toasted sourdough, to serve


Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush four 160ml-capacity ovenproof ramekins with butter.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil over high heat. Add the spinach leaves and cook for 10-20 seconds or until they just wilt. Drain and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Use your hands to squeeze out any excess liquid.

Line each ramekin base with the spinach, sprinkle over the nutmeg and top with Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Break an egg into each ramekin and drizzle over a teaspoon of cream.

Place ramekins in an ovenproof dish and pour enough boiling water into the dish to come halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are just set and the yolks are still soft.

Meanwhile, heat a chargrill on high and lightly brush asparagus with olive oil. Cook the asparagus on the grill until softened.

Remove the ramekins from the water and wipe each dish until dry. Place on serving plates, top with the combined herbs and serve immediately with chargrilled asparagus and toasted sourdough.