Grilled Cabécou and asparagus – a spring starter

At last asparagus has burst into the stores, and we hope with its arrival the beginnings of spring and the inevitable glory of summer.

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

Cabecou from Le Marche FrancaisCabécou 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

Cabecou and grilled asparagusAsparagus 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.

Cabecou and grilled asparagusGrilled goats cheese and asparagus
2 cabécou – or use about 200g of goats cheese
1-2 bunches of slender green asparagus
50 g of Parmesan cheese shavings
olive oil
salt, pepper.

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!

Got any questions about cheese?  I’d love to help answer them.

*This is a Nathalie Valmary recipe, excerpt from “Pure goat” published by MINERVA. Reproduced on Cabécou du Perigord

13 thoughts on “Grilled Cabécou and asparagus – a spring starter

    1. Hey Sally – The Brie would be good because it would melt. The Parmesan will help it get a great crust. You might want to give the asparagus a squeeze of lemon to get the acidity that the goats cheese brings.

      1. Thanks for that tip, Lucy.
        I will have a deputy at Hill St Farrmers Market in a fortnight as off to Oz to visit our son .
        I will be back there 13th October .
        I think there was talk of Evansdale cheese making a haloumi – will enquire & let u know .


      2. I do love asparagus and while it grows wild auornd here in the orchards, I stick to the organic variety from the local food co-op (who knows what’s been sprayed in those orchards). I did try growing it one year, to no avail maybe time to try again. And I never thought about combining bleu cheese and asparagus, but it sounds totally yummy.

      3. Thanks Ravindra – I think almost any cheese would go with asparagus! Asparagus is pretty tricky to grow and needs a couple of years to start producing. I have a small garden and little patience so I just have to buy mine!

  1. I’m going to give this one a go. I often roast asparagus, but keen to try it with the cheese (and I’ve never had cabecou. One question though – are you saying that you should do the grilling on the plate that you will serve them on? I don’t really have any suitable dishes for that. Can you grill on an oven tray and transfer? Perhaps on baking paper?

    1. I grilled it on the plate I served it on partly to reduce dishes! It only sits under the grill for 3-4 minutes so while the plate gets hot its not too bad. I’ve done it about 3 times now on dinner plates and platters. You can do it on a roasting pan, though you won’t then be able to mop up the melted cheese! I cooked it last night for some friends and before thy’s even finished what was on their plates they were mopping up the ‘juices’ on the platter!

    2. Oh and let me know what you think. I made this with half baby fennel as well last night to accommodate a non-asparagus eater- also delicious

    1. Yeah I have been mainlining asparagus. Although someone warned me it can cause gout! (now that Justified an exclamation mark!)So I’ve had a few days off- should be enough time to clear the blood!

    1. Thanks – I am delighted you enjoyed it. Asparagus is such a rare treat, it is great to eat as much as possible in its short season.

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