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Asparagus with anchovies and capers

Described as the culinary Holy Trinity - garlic, anchovies and capers - this is a common springtime dish in Italy and in a neighbouring region of Croatia, Istria, where it’s made with wild asparagus thinner than a pencil.

INGREDIENTS

1 to 2 garlic cloves to taste, peeled, halved, green shoot removed

3 anchovy fillets, rinsed

2 teaspoons capers, rinsed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup finely chopped onion

1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

Salt

freshly ground pepper

500 grams asparagus, preferably thin stalks, trimmed

PREPARATION

Place the garlic, anchovy fillets and capers in a mortar and pestle, and mash to a paste.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a small frying pan. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until tender (do not brown), three to five minutes. Stir in the garlic and anchovy paste, and cook, stirring, for another minute. Remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice, mint, salt and pepper. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes or longer. The flavours will mellow.

Steam the asparagus for three to five minutes until just tender. Remove to a platter or a wide bowl and add the remaining olive oil and the onion mixture. Toss gently and serve.

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