Asparagus Loaf

by Susan Smith in , ,

There’s been a seismic shift in my life situation over the past few weeks - and yes, it’s been every bit as horrible as it sounds. All self-care has gone out of the window and I’ve thrown my despairing food-blogging hands up in the air more than once because there has been no time for me to be creative. Nevertheless, with just a few more days left to get your hands on the last of the English Asparagus - the notoriously short season starts on St. George’s Day and ends on 21st June - I was determined to blog one of my all time favourite asparagus recipes. 

Thankfully, not much original thought was required. I’ve borrowed this recipe straight out of Rose Elliot’s book ‘The New Vegetarian Cookbook’ - although I’ve more than doubled the amount of ingredients than the original recipe calls for, because it just doesn’t make enough of this delicious savoury loaf to satisfy my greed for English asparagus.

If I wasn’t strictly Primal, I would most enjoy eating a couple of slices of this asparagus loaf for a lazy lunch in the garden on a warm summer’s afternoon, with a few Jersey Royal potatoes, homemade mayo, a fresh leaf salad and a glass of ice-cold wine. My food fantasy aside - and the fact that so far this year there’s been precious little summer weather to speak of - mangetout peas and some crisp lettuce will do just as nicely in place of potatoes for a lovely Primal-inspired summer dinner party dish. Alternatively, cut the loaf into tasty, canapés-sized mouthfuls to serve with drinks, transport to a glamorous picnic, or serve as a delicious vegetarian option as part of a buffet party spread. I think Asparagus Loaf is very, very delicious - anywhere, anytime, any place. 

Asparagus Loaf (serves 6)


1 medium onion, peeled and grated

225g Parmesan or Vegetarian Parmesan-style Cheese (I used Gran Moravia)

225g organic ground almonds (I bulk buy ground almonds online here)

4 large organic eggs

285ml single cream (I actually used 250ml organic double cream and made up the quantity with filtered water)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly-grated nutmeg (I used about ⅓ of a whole nutmeg)

750g green asparagus (at least 30 decent-sized asparagus spears)

Sprigs of organic watercress - to garnish



Boil a kettle of water. 

Set the oven to 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5

Snap the ends off the asparagus spears and using a potato peeler trim off the bottom third of the spears to make sure that all the tough part has been removed - you should end up with about 325-350 grams of trimmed asparagus.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into a large pan. Put the trimmed asparagus into a steamer basket set over the boiling water, put the pan lid on and steam the asparagus for 3 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, drain well again and set aside. 

Grease a 2lb loaf tin with melted butter and line with a long strip of baking parchment to cover the base and short-end sides.

In a large bowl, mix together the grated onion, cheese, ground almonds, eggs and cream.

Season with sea salt (about a teaspoon), a generous grinding of black pepper and the nutmeg.  

Put a layer of this nut mixture into the base of the loaf tin, then neatly arrange a layer of asparagus spears on top. Continue in layers like this until all the ingredients are used up, ending with the nut mixture. 

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until risen and firm in the centre.

Cool completely in the tin, then slip a knife around the sides and carefully turn out onto a plate.

Strip off the paper. Cut into slices. Arrange the slices on a plate - or individual plates - and garnish with watercress.



It’s well worth taking the time to arrange the asparagus spears neatly into the loaf tin. 

You’ll end up with 4 layers of the nut mixture and 3 layers of asparagus spears in your loaf tin, so try to split your ingredients evenly upfront. When baking this for the blog, I threatened to run out of the nut mixture for the final layer. From experience I know that If the top nut layer is too thin, when the loaf is cut into slices it will tend to break off. Annoyingly, I also ended up 2 asparagus spears short, which then had to be steamed separately! 

Season carefully as Parmesan cheese tends to be salty.

If you’re making canapés - makes about 48 - cut the slices neatly again into thirds.

Although leftovers keep well in a sealed container in the fridge, if the size of this loaf is too much for your needs, simply halve the ingredients and bake in a 1lb loaf tin for 45-60 minutes. 


Carbohydrates 11g Protein 28g - per serving


by Susan Smith in ,

The heartbreaking news about Cecil the lion continues to haunt me. It isn’t just the immorality of seeking out and killing magnificent endangered species of wild animals for ‘game’, it’s also the general lack of reverence for animals and nature, prevalent in today’s society, which I find so depressing. Who’d think to dye baby chicks neon colours and then seal them inside plastic bags to sell as toys? Closer to home, I’ve just stood and watched a motorist swerve his car across to the opposite side of the road outside my house to deliberately run over a female blackbird that was foraging for insects in the verge!

I’ve been teetering on the brink of eliminating all meat from my diet for a long time, but a constant stream of ugly events, symptomatic of a worldwide epidemic of insensible violent acts against the environment, other people and animals, have pushed me over the edge. It isn’t just a question of killing animals for sport. Whilst ever beautiful vegetarian food is available, why raise innocent sentient beings and subject them to systematic cruelty, mutilation and suffering before destroying their bodies in an industrialised slaughterhouse designed to kill 200 animals per minute? Just to eat? What for?

The fact is, an abundance of delicious, healthy, life-giving vegetarian food IS available, so what need is there to continue the very crude, primitive, uncivilised behaviour involved in destroying a body to eat its flesh? If you think this is okay, why not eat dogs, cats and horses? Or, to take the okay-ness and disconnected-ness of killing unevolved animals for food to its logical conclusion, it's just another step away from killing evolved animals for food, a.k.a. cannabilism. Enough now.

Primal Plate is committed to sharing recipes that are more in tune with compassion, beauty and love - how life should be lived - rather than the inhumane behaviours associated with eating factory farmed meat. 

Sir Paul McCartney sums it all up: "If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That's the single most important thing you could do. It's staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty”.

Primal Plate wants to pave the way for healthy, nutritious, vegetarian, Primal-friendly alternatives to meat that won’t compromise on your foodie sensory pleasure. Quite the opposite in fact. Vegetarians all too often turn to grains and legumes to pack out their meals, but unfortunately these foods contain anti-nutrients, are pro-inflammatory and can ultimately make you fat and diseased. All Primal Plate recipes are created without the unhealthy ‘bad boys’ - grains, legumes, refined sugar, processed seed oils - but look equally as good, and often taste much better, than their gluten, lectin, trans-fat riddled counterparts. Making meat-free meals is aesthetically more appealing because vegetarianism respects life and doesn’t disconnect people from the suffering caused by them consuming “corpse and two veg”.     

These meat-free, vegan Nutburgers are serious contenders for the best of alfresco or BBQ fare. With a full-on savoury taste profile and a better texture than ground beef or lamb, they might easily be confused with ‘sausage-burgers’ for uninitiated carnivores.

Keep the Primal/Paleo ethos intact by ditching the burger bun and wrapping them up in the biggest, freshest raw savoy cabbage leaves you can find. Top with your choice of dressing - tomato ketchup (is sort of obligatory), homemade mayonnaise, or spicy chutney. Serve with sliced tomatoes, avocado and a handful of micro-leaves for a lovely-looking, very filling, nutrient-dense, moreish burger that doesn’t hurt or harm any animal - a conscious lifestyle change that doesn’t add to the pain and suffering in this mad world. Walter Palmer-ites, take note!

Nutburgers (V) (Makes 12-13 burgers)


2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

100g organic butter or vegan alternative (M&S Simply range do a vegan-friendly sunflower spread)

250g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped

25g green banana flour

1 tbsp organic ground flaxseed

2 tsp organic Marigold vegetable bouillon powder

2 tbsp Clearspring tamari soy sauce

2 tsp yeast extract (e.g. Marmite)

200ml filtered water

450g mixed nuts (I used raw organic cashews, walnuts, macadamias, brazil nuts and pistachios) - finely chopped 

200g ground almonds

4 rounded tablespoons fresh mixed herbs (parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary etc.), finely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To finish

75g ground almonds, to coat 

Olive oil for shallow frying



In a large pan, gently sauté the onions and celery in the butter (or vegan alternative) for 10 minutes until they are soft a just turning golden brown.

Add the chopped mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes until soft and most of the liquid has been driven off as steam.

Mix in the banana flour and cook for a further minute. Pour in the water and stir continuously over a medium heat until thickened.

Add the stock powder, ground flaxseed, tamari, yeast extract, mixed nuts, ground almonds, fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cool before proceeding to the next step.

Tip extra ground almonds onto a large flat plate in readiness for coating the burgers.

When the burger mixture is cool enough to handle, form into 12 burgers - about 6cm (2½”) wide x 2 cm (¾”) thick, weighing approximately 100g each. N.B. Don’t make the burgers much bigger than this because they’re easier to manoeuvre and turn them over in the pan (without breaking up) if they’re smaller and more compact.

Coat the burgers in the ground almonds and place onto a clean plate. Cover loosely with cling film and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to start cooking.

Cook on a lightly oiled flat tin (or frying pan) over the barbecue. Alternatively, if you’re not firing up the barbecue, gently fry the burgers in a little olive oil in an oven-proof frying pan over a moderate heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Then place the frying pan in the oven (pre-heated to 190℃) for a further 8-10 minutes to heat through completely. 

We topped the burger with ketchup and mayo, slices of tomato and vegetarian mozzarella and some pretty micro leaves, before wrapping around the savoy cabbage leaf. Knives and forks not needed!

We topped the burger with ketchup and mayo, slices of tomato and vegetarian mozzarella and some pretty micro leaves, before wrapping around the savoy cabbage leaf. Knives and forks not needed!


The easiest, quickest and least messy way to finely chop the mixed nuts is in a food processor. Ditto the mushrooms and fresh herbs.

To make this recipe suitable for vegans, I used ground almonds for coating these burgers. However, if you eat eggs and you have some 2-3 day old leftover Grain-free Bread vegetarians can convert this into panko-style breadcrumbs for a crispier coating. 

To make panko-style breadcrumbs for coating: 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 140℃. 
  • Cut about 150g of grain-free bread (including the crust) into cubes. Using the coarse grater/shredding disk of a food processor, push the bread cubes through the feeder tube to make coarse crumbs. 
  • Spread the crumbs out onto a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 15-20 minutes until they are dry but not browned. Tip: To ensure the crumbs bake evenly, take them out of the oven every 5 minutes or so and turn them over with a spatula, then give the tray a good shake to level them out again before continuing with the cooking process.
  • When the crumbs are completely dried-out (crispy but not toasted) remove them from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Coat the burgers in the dried breadcrumbs and cook as above,

The burger mixture can be made 2-3 days in advance and kept covered in a refrigerator. It can then be shaped into burgers and coated with ground almonds/dried breadcrumbs the day you intend to eat them. 


Carbohydrate 10g Protein 17g - per burger

Good food, wine, a generous tomato and vegetarian mozzarella salad and our nutburgers are the perfect partners for chilled-out al fresco dining.

Good food, wine, a generous tomato and vegetarian mozzarella salad and our nutburgers are the perfect partners for chilled-out al fresco dining.

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino with Parmesan Crusted Chicken / Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés

by Susan Smith in , , , , , , ,

There’s a debate going on in our household. A sort of ‘Daddy or Chips?’ to-ing and fro-ing. Sarah thinks I should feature more meat recipes on Primal Plate’s blog and I’m not finding any reason to do so. In fact, the opposite is true - I am not interested in promoting meat consumption.

Mass cruelty is going on, and millions of factory-farmed chickens, pigs and cows are suffering the consequences, without any encouragement from me. Most people don’t want to know how the food they eat arrives on their plate, because if they become fully aware of the heartrending, unmerciful, intense farming methods, kept ‘under wraps’ by agribusiness and food advertising agencies, natural empathy will force them to change their eating habits, or at least make them willing to pay the extra price for compassionately and ethically reared farm animals. I have a solution. If you think you can’t afford to buy organic, free-range, grass-fed meat, stop eating meat! Or, if you must eat it, save it for special occasions when you are happy to pay a little more for the privilege.

So now my intention is clear, I can indulge Sarah and look to those people who like to draw attention to the fact that meat is most often missing on Primal Plate’s blog. Today’s post should make the point admirably. 

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino is a fresh, light-bite that’s been slightly modified from an original Waitrose recipe. More than a cold salad but not quite a hot dinner, this dish captures all the flavours of summer with the minimum of fuss. With the exception of griddling the asparagus spears (which only takes about 6-8 minutes) everything else can be pre-prepared and quickly assembled when you’re ready to eat. 

It’s delicious with Parmesan Crusted Chicken (buy your chicken here) assuming you’ve taken on board the importance of provenance - but here’s the thing, it’s twice as good (and a lot more convenient to serve) teamed with Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (recipe adapted from Rose Elliot’s book Vegetarian Four Seasons).

This is my sort of food - tasty soft pillows of all-protein goodness, topped with golden, crunchy, cheese - and no animal suffering in the making thereof! When it comes to deciding which is more enticing to eat, I think the photographs here say it for me!

Still, I’ve included the recipes for both chicken and soufflés, so you have the choice. However, I entreat you to please stop supporting the horrors of intensive animal farming by paying the extra money for free-range, outdoor bred, organic chicken - without exception. Thank you.

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino (V - see note below) (Serves 2-4)


250g tomatoes, halved (I used Pome dei Moro)

500g asparagus, trimmed

Fast and easy vinaigrette

30g pine nuts, toasted

25g pack fresh basil, shredded if leaves are large, or left whole if small

30g Pecorino, Parmesan or Twineham Grange cheese, finely grated



Pre-heat the oven to 150 ℃ / 300℉ / Gas mark 3

Arrange tomato halves in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment . Cook in the pre-heated oven for up to 1 hour. N.B. Because oven temperatures can vary considerably, check the tomatoes progress after 45 minutes - they should be semi-collapsed, semi-dried and slightly caramelised when they’re done - definitely not scorched! Remove from the oven and set aside.

Gently toast pine nuts in a small dry frying pan over a low heat until golden - watch like a hawk, don’t let them burn!

Make the fast and easy vinaigrette. Set aside.

Wash asparagus, drain and dry. Snap off the bottom of the spears and peel the lower third with a potato peeler. Drizzle the prepared asparagus with olive oil, coating them evenly, then season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

Just before you’re ready to serve, heat a griddle pan to hot. Cook the asparagus in a single layer until lightly charred and tender (takes about 5-8 minutes)

Arrange the cooked asparagus on a large serving plate, scatter with the tomatoes. Drizzle generously with the vinaigrette then top with pine nuts, shredded basil leaves and grated cheese…in that order.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Serves 2) 

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts 

1 egg white, lightly beaten

60g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

A generous grinding of freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp Clearspring organic sunflower frying oil



Pre-heat the oven to 200℃. 

Combine freshly ground black pepper with grated Parmesan.

Dip each chicken fillet into the beaten egg white and then firmly press the chicken into the combined Parmesan and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a non-stick oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat. When it is hot, cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Do not be tempted to move the chicken around the pan - it will be crispier if you leave it alone. 

Put the frying pan into the pre-heated oven for a further 8-10 minutes until cooked through. N.B. if you’re not sure if it’s completely cooked, cut through the middle of one of the chicken fillets with a sharp knife and check.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving. 


Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (V) (Makes 8 soufflés - serves 4 for a main course, 8 as a starter) 


Butter for greasing 

8 tbsp ready-grated Parmesan cheese

225g full fat cream cheese (I used Longley Farm)

4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

150g Gruyere cheese, finely grated

5 large egg whites

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper



Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4. Boil a kettle of water.

Generously grease 8 ramekin dishes, then sprinkle the insides with 4 tablespoons of the ready-grated Parmesan.

Put the cream cheese into a large bowl and mash with a fork until it’s smooth. Gradually mix in the egg yolks, then add half the grated Gruyere. Season with sea salt and black pepper. 

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a clean grease-free whisk (preferably electric if you’re not feeling energetic) until they stand in soft peaks.

Stir one tablespoon of the whisked egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it, then using a metal tablespoon gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Spoon the mixture into the ramekins to come level with the top, but don’t pile it up any higher.

Stand the filled ramekins in a roasting tin, pour the boiling water round to come halfway up the sides and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are risen and set.

Remove from the oven and allow to get cold - they’ll sink a bit. Loosen the edges and turn them out. It’s easiest to turn them out into the palm of one hand, then transfer them to an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere cheese, then with the rest of the Parmesan cheese. 

They can now wait until you’re ready to bake them. Then, pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 425℉ / Gas mark 7.

Bake them for 15-20 minutes or until they are puffed up and golden brown.

Serve immediately.


It’s impossible to make Pecorino or Parmesan cheese without using animal rennet, so they are not suitable for vegetarians. Twineham Grange cheese is made with a vegetarian rennet in place of the animal rennet and is the only cheese of its type to be Vegetarian Society Approved. For more information click here.

Twice-baked cheese soufflés are excellent for a special brunch served alongside slices of wild smoked salmon and accompanied by a glass of freshly squeezed orange and pink grapefruit juice. They can even be made and frozen in their dish, ready to be quickly defrosted and baked.  

The cooking times for chicken breast fillets depend on their size and thickness so I have allowed some latitude in my timings. Try to ensure that both fillets are the same weight so you’re not juggling around with different timings for each. Ultimately, you have to use your discretion but, if in doubt, nothing will spoil if you cut one open, just to make sure it’s nicely cooked all the way through.


Carbohydrate 6g Protein 8g - per serving of Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino/Twineham Grange cheese

Carbohydrate 0g Protein 44g - per serving of Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Carbohydrate 2g Protein 28g - per main course serving of 2x individual Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (1g carbohydrate 14g protein - per soufflé)