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Charred baby gem salad with peas, asparagus, lardons, pea shoots and smoked garlic aioli

Charred baby gem salad with peas, asparagus, lardons, pea shoots and smoked garlic aioli

A fresh and zingy starter that makes the most of spring vegetables


  • 2 heads of baby gem lettuce, quartered
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bunch of asparagus
  • Large handful of fresh peas in the pod
  • Packet of smoked lardons
  • Packet of pea shoots

For the aioli

  • 2 fat cloves of smoked garlic
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 50ml olive oil


  1. Put a pan of water on to boil. Heat a chargrill or the bbq until hot. Lightly oil the baby gem quarters and season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Char the lettuce on both sides until you have a nice colour.
  3. Meanwhile, snap the woody ends off the asparagus and pod the peas. Slice the asparagus on an angle into three or four pieces. Cook the asparagus and peas in the water for a couple of minutes, or until the tip of a knife goes through a piece of asparagus. Drain and refresh under cold water. Pat dry the asparagus with kitchen paper.
  4. Heat a small pan and cook off the lardons until crispy.
  5. To make the aioli, add the garlic and yolks into a small processor. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Blitz together, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Once combined, check the seasoning. This will be a sharp, punchy dressing for the salad so you may find it very strong on its own.
  6. Once everything is cooked, arrange the pea shoots on some plates, add the charred lettuce and scatter over the remaining ingredients. Drizzle over the dressing. 

Recipe by Jody Spencer

Taste Buds chef: Jody Spencer

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The MayJune 2020 issue of Taste Buds is out now