I first created this dish to make asparagus more wine-friendly with the addition of cheese and nuts – now it’s become a staple reflecting southern French origins. If you can find some hazelnut oil, it’s worth the splurge as just a touch really brings the dish to life!
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 pound fresh asparagus
- 4 teaspoons hazelnut , walnut or olive oil
- Juice and grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup soft goat cheese
- Place the hazelnuts on an oven tray and scatter with half the thyme. Bake in a moderate oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden and aromatic. Transfer to a clean dish towel, rub off the skins and remove, then chop roughly.
- Snap the stalky bases off the asparagus spears and blanch in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes, or until tender-crisp.
- Transfer to a bowl of ice water until cold, then dry on paper towels. If preferred, you can also grill the asparagus and serve as a hot salad.
- Whisk the oil and lemon juice together and season to taste. Place the asparagus in a bowl and toss with the dressing to coat.
- To serve, arrange asparagus on plates or platter and crumble over the goat cheese, extra thyme and lemon zest. Scatter with the hazelnuts.