September is and always will be my favourite time of year. My birthday falls in September and to me the month always symbolises new beginnings and fresh starts, combined as it was in childhood with the start of the school year. Something about those clean, empty lined exercise books, newly sharpened pencils and stiff shiny patent shoes meant a year of promise and potential ahead, and a shedding of the skin of the previous more childish me that had dawdled the purposeless summer away.
When it comes to seasonal food however, May and June win hands down. Earthy green asparagus, the gaudy bright yellow of the courgette flower and of course luscious juicy red strawberries – everything about this time of year suggests a fresher way of eating, a world away from the comforting stodge of winter.
This asparagus, courgette and feta salad is combination of two favourite recipes – one recently found in the Waitrose magazine for ancho chilli asparagus with mint and feta, and the other an old Jamie Oliver salad combining ribboned courgette with herbs, lemon and olive oil.
Griddled Ancho Chilli Asparagus Salad with Feta and Courgette
Serves 4 as a side dish
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp ancho chilli paste
1 whole lemon, zested and juiced
200g feta cheese
2 large courgettes
Handful mint, handful coriander, finely chopped.
Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and then boil it in salted water for 1 minute, before popping into cold water to cool. Pat dry.
Mix 1 tbsp of the olive oil with the chilli paste and a squeeze of the lemon juice in a bowl, then tip in the asparagus, season and mix.
Heat a griddle pan over a high heat, then tip in the asparagus. Cook for a 3-4 minutes, turning regularly until nice and charred. Allow to cool.
Peel the courgette into ribbons, and place in a serving dish. Add the asparagus, then crumble in the feta and chopped herbs.
Drizzle over the rest of the olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest and serve.