baked asparagus and pecorino

Florence Knight

The easy Easter feast: make it hassle-free and delicious with the season’s best ingredients
Easter is a time of year that is undeniably associated with hope, renewal and promise. This sense of optimism always finds its way into my kitchen. As the sun’s warmth finally begins to put winter to rest, asparagus spears emerge from the soil, Jersey royals reach their best and rhubarb stalks spread rampantly, bringing a shot of colour. I love to make the most of these ingredients, opting for simple, approachable dishes that enhance and showcase the season’s best flavours.

It’s best to prepare asparagus simply. Choose firm spears, and make the effort to look for feuille de brick pastry, although filo will do. The buttery pastry, wrapped around the belly of each spear, becomes crisp and golden when baked, and is best eaten warm with plenty of grated pecorino or Berkswell, a hard sheep’s cheese from the West Midlands.

serves 4 people

1 packet feuille de brick or filo pastry
150g unsalted butter, melted
250g ricotta
180g pecorino romano, or Berkswell cheese
1 whole nutmeg
16-20 asparagus spears, woody ends removed
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat the oven to 200C (non-fan 220C). Brush one sheet of pastry generously with melted butter. If using filo, layer over a second sheet and brush again with butter. Cover the remaining sheets with a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out.

Spread a couple of tablespoons of ricotta roughly to the edges of the sheet and grate over some of the pecorino and a little nutmeg. Season well with salt and black pepper.

Cut the pastry into four strips of equal length. Place two thick or three slim asparagus spears at the end of each strip with the tips sticking out a little. Roll the spears into the pastry and place on a baking tray before brushing with plenty of butter.

Repeat the process with another sheet of pastry and the rest of the spears. Cook them for 10 minutes or until golden and crisp. Serve while still warm with more grated pecorino, freshly ground black pepper and a few drops of lemon juice.