Saturday, 12 July 2008

Weekend Herb Blogging - Herbed Asparagus Bundles

It's the weekend! Time for Weekend Herb Blogging with Kayln from Kayln's Kitchen. A celebration of cooking with herbs or finding interesting and innovative ways of using spices and new plants in a delicious dish. This week's guest host is Simona from Briciole, check out her site for some interesting dishes with herbs and some valuable lessons on Italian food. Click here for this week's round-up.

I was back to the garden this week. The mix of heat and rain has made my herbs very happy, especially my parsley, and I decided to do a bit of a deconstructed pesto in my dish. Pesto means paste, at it's most basic definition. We normally associate it with a blend of herbs (usually basil), nuts (usually pine nuts), olive oil, garlic and cheese (usually Parmesan - never the stuff in the green can).

I have found that I enjoy the basil paired with another herb to round it out - parsley is mild and bright enough for the job. Pine nuts are fine but not my favourite (bad foodie!) and rather expensive, I like almonds. You will notice that I added the almond slices after grinding the herbs - I like the crunch factor. Parmesan is a gift from god but I like to mix it up once in a while so here I have used Macedonian feta. The Macedonian feta is creamier like a young goat cheese but regular feta will be fine in this dish.

For some tips on phyllo pastry, go to my last post here.

Herbed Asparagus Bundles
Makes 6 - 8

1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed of woody stems. Arrange in groups of 5.

Herb Blend
4 sun dried tomatoes, cut up
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup parsley leaves
¼ cup basil leaves
Salt & pepper to taste

Pulse all herb blend ingredients together in small food processor or mortar and pestle.

1/3 cup feta cheese
¼ cup sliced almonds & more for sprinkling

6 - 8 phyllo sheets
1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees f.
Stir herb blend in with crumbled feta and sliced almonds in small/med bowl.
Lay one sheet of phyllo down on work surface in landscape position.
Brush right half with butter and fold left side over to cover it.
Brush new right side with butter and fold left side over to cover it.
Now you have a long strip about 4 inches wide.
Lay the first asparagus bundle across the strip of phyllo, top with herbed cheese mixture and lightly brush the pastry with butter. Roll up and place on lined baking sheet seam side down.
Brush with butter and sprinkle with slice almonds.
Repeat with the rest of the bundles.
Bake until golden brown and flakey, about 25 minutes.

As my friend Peter says, everything tastes better when it's wrapped up like a present. Enjoy!