This refreshing tapa is my way of featuring vegetables that are in season and a great contrast to the delicious cheeses and hams that generally take centre stage. It is best served 30 minutes after making, while the asparagus has just started to soften but is still crisp. My favourite olive oil to use for this was the Hojiblanca variety which is forward in tomato, artichokes and fresh herbal notes.
Rinse asparagus well and with a vegetable peeler slice thin strips until each spear is sliced into ribbons. Transfer to a small bowl and add lemon zest, 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and let stand.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over low heat until hot but not smoking. Add the tiny croutons and fry gently for 4-5 minutes, stirring regularly until crisp and golden. Remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towel.
To serve, spoon a small mound of asparagus onto little tapas plates of spoons, top with several tomato quarters, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with tiny croutons. Serve immediately
Makes 8 tapas portions.
Preparation: Christine Cushing