A rather elegant summery dish with fragrant saffron cream.
450 g (1 lb) young asparagus
pinch of saffron threads
25 g (1 oz) butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
30 ml (2 tbsp) white wine
250 ml (8 fl oz) 1 cup double cream
grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
115 g (4 oz) peas
350 g (12 oz) somen noodles
1/2 bunch chervil, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Cut off the asparagus tips (about 5 cm (2 in) in length) , then slice the remaining spears into short rounds.
2. Steep the saffron in 30 ml (2 tbsp) boiling water in a cup.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the shallots and cook over a low heat for 3 minutes until soft. Add the white wine, cream and saffron infusion. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens to a coating consistency. Add the grated lemon rind and juice, with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Blanch the asparagus tips, scoop them out and add them to the sauce, then cook the peas and short asparagus rounds in the boiling water until just tender. Scoop them out and add to the sauce.
5. Cook the somen noodles in the same water until just tender, following the directions on the packet. Drain, place in a wide pan and pour the sauce over the top.
6. Toss the noodles with the sauce and vegetables, adding the chervil and more salt and pepper if needed. Finally, sprinkle with the grated Parmesan, if using, and serve hot.
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