I love how seasonal asparagus is, and how its brief appearance reminds us of the soil and the seasons. I love this too about cheese, and in particular artisan cheese. It speaks of place and breed and particularity.
I found this recipe when researching a little gem of a cheese called cabécou (pronounced ka-be-coo) and translated it from French, care of Babelfish.
Cabécou du Perigord
Cabécou is a tiny disc of a cheese, only 5 cm in diameter. It is soft and pale and oh so young, with a smattering of white mould blooming on its delicate lemony surface. The taste is mild but flavoursome, the texture silky smooth. When cut, you can see this little cheese aging towards the centre.
Cabécou is made from goats milk and comes from the Midi-Pyrénées region of southern France. I got this little darling at le Marche Francais in Wellington. They are about $4 each.
Le Marche Francais
Asparagus loves all things lemony, so the lemon zing of goat’s cheese is a perfect match. I reckon you could use any goat’s cheese for this, such as a chevre or other log shaped cheese. If you’re going to use goat’s feta then I would heartily recommend soaking it for 10 minutes in milk to get rid of the saltiness. Check out my previous post on feta and the benefits of soaking.
Fantastic feta – why so many choices?
If you haven’t had roasted or grilled asparagus you are in for a treat. Sweet flavours develop rather that the sometimes sock-like taste it can get when boiled. The tanginess of the goats cheese and the caramels of the grilled parmesan form a cheesey sauce for the asparagus. You’ll need bread, ‘cos believe me you will want to lick every bit off the plate.
I used half a cabécou each for a starter for 4 or you could use one per person for a lunch or light dinner with salad and bread. A Sauvignan Blanc would be great with this, though also a dry minerally dry Reisling might also work.
Preheat oven to 210° C. Snap ends off the asparagus. Lay them in a single layer in a roasting pan and give them a good slosh of olive oil, roll them around to coat. Bake for about 10 minutes, checking them about 5 minutes in. You want them to colour ever so slightly.
Remove from the oven and turn the oven on the grill.
Cut the cabécou in half to make two discs, or slice your chevre into rounds. Place on top of the asparagus. I did mine on separate plates, but you could do it on a single oblong platter. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the parmesan over the cheese. Aim for a good covering of parmesan and make sure it spills over the edge for artful, crunchy bits. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden. About 3-5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread, a simple salad and Sauvignan Blanc. Bon appetit!
*This is a Nathalie Valmary recipe, excerpt from “Pure goat” published by MINERVA. Reproduced on Cabécou du Perigord