May’s edition of Food & Travel magazine has some fantastic asparagus recipes: chargrilled with radicchio, burrata, walnuts and pomegranate; grilled with goats cheese, pine nuts and marjoram served on Pane Pugliese; seared smoked salmon, broad beans and tomatoes then sprinkled with garlic olive oil but, what really caught my eye was asparagus and ricotta fritters with a lemon- smoked paprika mayonnaise and pesto. This would make an elegant starter though we thoroughly enjoyed this as a relaxed, Sunday evening supper.

Begin by snapping the tough part of the lower stalk, at the point where there is the least resistance, from a 500g bunch of asparagus then in turn, peel each spear – a serrated vegetable peeler is very efficient to do this. Split the bunch in half. One half of the spears are to be sliced lengthways into 2 or 3 ribbons depending on thickness whilst the remaining spears are sliced into thin discs.

Separate the yolks from the whites of 2 eggs.

To the yolks add: 125g ricotta cheese (half a tub), 50g fresh, finely grated Parmesan a pinch of smoked paprika and 2 tbsp. potato flour (available from Asian grocers). Season with salt and pepper and mix well until the batter is smooth then stir in the fine asparagus discs.
Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff then fold into the yolk mixture.

Heat a little oil in a heavy frying pan. Drop in heaped table spoonful’s of mixture and form into round fritter shapes; the mixture should make 8. To keep things simple, cook a couple at a time for a few minutes on each side, firming as they cook and becomming golden in colour.
To finish, wipe clean the pan and heat a little oil before cooking the asparagus ribbons or alternatively, griddle them in a preheated, ridged pan.

These are delicious either warm or at room temperature. Pop onto a baking sheet and into a low oven to keep them warm before serving or leave to cool on a wire rack. Serve garnished with asparagus ribbons and a swirl each of Citrus Mayonnaise and Basil Pesto:

Citrus Mayonnaise
To a good quality mayonnaise add the finely chopped zest and juice of 1 lemon plus a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Basil Pesto
Using a mini processor, whizz together a handful of chopped basil leaves with a tablespoon of both pine nuts and grated Parmesan and2 or 3 tablespoons of fruity olive oil.