This savory-sweet-salty take on Spring's first asparagus is couched in classic Spanish influences and absolutely glows with gorgeous color. In the summer try it with fresh green beans and grilled tuna or prawns!
(Note: We loved this dish so much when we first did it for the show back in 2007 that we decided to bring it back. I have made only a couple of small changes from the original.)
For the asparagus and grilled garlic bread:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
18 asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
12 slices rustic bread, such as Ciabbata or baguette
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl and let sit while the grill heats. Toss the asparagus in enough of the seasoned olive oil to coat it lightly. Brush both sides of the bread slices with the olive oil as well. Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill to high and cook the asparagus and the bread slices, turning once or twice, for a scant 2-3 minutes, or until grill marks show. The asparagus should be deep emerald in color but still tender-crisp and the bread a light golden. Remove the spears and the bread to a platter.
To finish the dish:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
1 fresh mango, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cut lemon (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon slices and fresh herbs for garnish
Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the oil. Stir fry the garlic, and thyme for about 15 seconds. Add the capers, olives, red bell pepper and basil and cook to heat through. Fold in the mango slices, squeeze the lemon over all the ingredients and season with the salt and pepper.
Place 2 bread slices on each of 6 individual plates, and criss cross 3 asparagus spears on top. Spoon the mango-olive-caper mixture over. Garnish with lemon slices and sprigs of thyme, basil or parsley.