asparagus, red pepper & feta salad
Seasonal spears of asparagus with roasted red peppers and feta dotted on top, are lovingly tossed in a dressing made with Zejd’s pomegranate molasses for a summer salad. Some walnuts and a handful of rocket will add texture and pepperiness, giving the salad more impressive proportions. However, it’s the tangy pomegranate molasses mixed with Zejd’s extra virgin olive oil absorbed by the warm red peppers which matters.
Red peppers pop up in veg boxes in the summer and roasting them so their skin turns black, leaves the flesh soft and supple. Once peeled, they soak up the tartness of the pomegranate molasses dressing while the rest of the salad is prepped. Asparagus halfway through June is a more reasonable price than earlier in the season. Quickly blanched and plunged into ice cold water, it keeps fresh-looking and has a bite. A handful of rocket, or salad leaves, gives some body to the bowl, while the feta says “this is lunch” rather than “this is salad“! If you don’t have walnuts, use hazelnuts or un-skinned almonds for additional fibre.
We based our recipe on one from Darina Allen’s fabulous Forgotten Skills of Cooking. As the dressing had lots of ingredients to it, we simplified things and made the most of the zingy flavour of the Zejd’s pomegranate molasses. This is a dressing we use for fattoush, and we sprinkled on some sumac for extra tartness just as you would for the Lebanese salad. Feel free to play around with proportions of the dressing. Zejd’s pomegranate molasses has no added sugar, so is naturally tart, and you may prefer leave the lemon juice out. It’s a summer salad which has texture, taste and doesn’t take long to put together which makes it a winner in our household!
serves 4 generously
2 red peppers
a bunch of asparagus, halved with the ends trimmed
handful of rocket leaves, or mixed salad leaves
a small handful of marjoram or basil leaves
70g of feta, broken up
a handful or walnuts, chopped, (hazelnuts or almonds are good too)
a little Zejd extra virgin olive oil to dress the asparagus
salt & pepper
to finish (optional)
1 tbsp Zejd’s sumac
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 350F or gas mark 4. Place the red peppers in s small roasting dish, and drizzle with a little of the extra virgin olive oil. Cook for 25 minutes, or until the skin is starting to blister and mostly black all over.
- Put in a small bowl and cover with clingfilm for 5 minutes. Then peel and leave the red peppers in the bowl with any juice, but without seeds.
- In another bowl make the dressing and pour over the red peppers. Add the marjoram leaves and set aside.
- Bring the water in a medium sized saucepan to the boil, and add the halved and trimmed asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes, until just tender, drain and pour into cold iced water to keep their fresh colour. Remove from the water, and lay on a clean dish cloth to dry. Transfer to a plate, and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
- In a salad bowl, add the rocket or salad leaves, lay the asparagus spears on top, and dot the surface with the red pepper and pour over the dressing. Scatter the chunks of feta cheese and walnuts. If you have some, sprinkle a tablespoon of Zejd’s sumac over the white cheese. Gently, so as not to mash the cheese up, toss the salad, adding more extra virgin olive oil if necessary.
As part of a summer lunch, some hard boiled quails eggs rolled in sumac and salt, as well as some bread, would be a delicious addition.