No 3: Asparagus, Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Loaf

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This easy loaf will take you no more than 20 minutes to make and most of that time will be spent getting out the ingredients! A perfect yeast free bread for warm days of spring when asparagus is in season.  Serve with some cold meats, cheese and ripe tomatoes for a special al fresco lunch.

Tips: If you don’t have buttermilk to hand you can use the same quantity of milk, but add a tablespoon of lemon juice, or white vinegar, and wait 10 minutes for it to thicken. When cooking asparagus I have realised the easiest way, after trimming the ends (do this by bending the spear until it snaps naturally at the right place) is to stand the spears in a measuring jug or tall mug. Fill the jug two-thirds up the stems with boiling water.  Wrap cling film around the mug to form a sealed tent over the spears. Do allow enough room for the steam that will be created.  Microwave on full power for 2-3 minutes until the tips are just tender, and the stems are just tender.

Ingredients

100ml olive oil

250g asparagus spears, each cut into 3 pieces

200g self raising flour

1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 2 tsps. of dried)

3 eggs

100ml buttermilk

Handful of pitted olives (green or black).

100g sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

100g gruyere cheese, grated (use cheddar if that’s all you have).

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5.
  2. Oil and line a loaf tin (22x10x5cm)
  3. Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes, (see above) and then cool quickly by running under cold water, pat dry.
  4. Mix the flour and thyme together in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the eggs, buttermilk and oil, and stir well to make a smooth batter.
  6. Reserve the asparagus tips and a few olives for the top of the loaf and add the remaining chopped asparagus stems, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and two-thirds of the cheese to the batter and stir thoroughly.
  7. Pour into the loaf tin.
  8. Place the reserved asparagus tips and olives on top of the loaf and sprinkle over the rest of the cheese.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the loaf feels firm to the touch and is golden and crusty on top.
  10. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out to cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

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