Chargrilled asparagus with hedgerow mayonnaise

This makes a lovely and simple first course for a dinner party. If served with cured meats and cheeses, it also makes a great summer lunch dish. The mayonnaise can be made up to a day ahead.


1 bunch asparagus

1 handful in total of any combination of wild garlic, jack by the hedge, hawthorn leaves, blanched nettles (can we include pictures of Jack by the Hedge?). If not available, rocket, watercress and roast garlic all make nice, pungent alternatives.

2 egg yolks (use freshly laid eggs for the best results. If you are concerned about using raw egg because you are cooking for young children, pregnant ladies, the elderly or the infirm, I would use pasteurised egg yolks instead, or use a shop bought mayo for the base)

200g light olive or rapeseed oil

20g Dijon mustard

1 lemon Salt and pepper


1 Wash the asparagus and remove the woody ends of the stalks by bending near the base until the stalk snaps

2 Peel the asparagus or rub with a pan scourer (not essential if you want to leave the skin on)

3 Preheat the chargrill or barbecue until extremely hot

4 Make the mayonnaise by blitzing the egg yolks with the Dijon mustard, using either a hand held blender or a food processor. Add whichever greenery you are using and blitz until pureed (or more coarsely chopped if you prefer it this way)

5 Add the oil in a very slow and steady trickle- it is sometimes easier to get someone else to help with this bit if you are using a hand blender or you may find that you run out of hands.

6 Stop adding the oil occasionally to allow the mayonnaise to emulsify and also to check for thickness. You may not end up needing all of the oil.

7 Make the mayonnaise slightly thicker than you would like it, then add lemon juice and salt to taste. If the juice has made the mayonnaise too loose, add a bit more oil. Refrigerate until required.

8 To chargrill the asparagus, dab with kitchen paper to remove any surface moisture, then roll in oil

9 Place on the chargrill and cook for 20-30 seconds on each side

10 Remove to a serving dish, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with a pot of the mayonnaise for dipping.