Salmon and Asparagus Wraps with Rocket Pesto

Farmed salmon has become much better quality over the years, and in my opinion some of the best available comes from Ireland, where the sea is always freezing cold and for the most part is unpolluted, with strong tidal flows. Make sure your salmon fillets are all even-sized and about 2.5cm (1in) thick to ensure even cooking. They also work well on the barbecue and can be made up to 12 hours in advance, covered with clingfilm and chilled until needed - just don't add the squeeze of lemon juice until you're ready to cook them.

Ingredients


  • 12 asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 4 x 175g (6oz) skinless organic salmon fillets
  • 4 fresh dill sprigs
  • 4 slices parma ham
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 25g (1oz) butter
  • lightly dressed mixed salad, to serve
  • biarritz potatoes to serve
  • lemon wedges, to garnish
  • for the rocket pesto:
  • 25g (1oz) pine nuts
  • 50g (2oz) rocket leaves
  • 25g (1oz) freshly grated parmesan
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) rapeseed oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5).
  2. To make the rocket pesto, place the pine nuts in a baking tin and roast for a few minutes, until golden brown, keeping a close eye on them to make sure they don't burn. Leave to cool.
  3. Place the rocket in a food processor with the toasted pine nuts, Parmesan and oil. Season with salt and pepper and blitz to a smooth purée. Place in a smal bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill until ready to use (this can be made up to 4 days in advance).
  4. Blanch the asparagus spears in a pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain and quickly refresh under cold running water, then tip into a bowl of ice-cold water to cool completely. Drain well and pat dry on kitchen paper.
  5. Season each salmon fillet with pepper and arrange 3 asparagus spears, trimming them down as necessary, and a dill sprig on top of each fillet. Lightly wrap a slice of Parma ham around each bundle and place in a shallow non-metallic dish, then add a squeeze of lemon juice.
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the butter. Once it stops foaming, add the salmon wraps presentation-side down and cook for 4-5 minutes all over to seal. Transfer to the oven and roast for another 8 minutes, until the salmon wraps are cooked through.
  7. To serve, arrange the salmon wraps on warmed serving plates and spoon some of the rocket pesto to one side. Add some mixed salad to each plate and place the rest of the rocket pesto on the table. Have a separate dish of Biarritz potatoes and lemon wedges.




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