I have to confess that I am only a recent convert to the virtues of asparagus. Too many bad experiences with limp, over-cooked soggy stems had left me thinking it was one thing I was never going to get involved with. But my vegetarian friend makes this incredible salad, only very lightly steaming the asparagus and combining it with zesty lemon and creamy feta and I am now a total convert.
It is one of those vegetables that epitomises spring, an inspiring sight at the farmers market signalling the end of what can be a long, cold winter in Dunedin. Along with broccolini, it makes this salad packed with antioxidants and is such a welcome sight after a winter of gorging myself on heavier cuisine. This salad makes for a great lunch or vegetarian dinner option – the barley has a delicious nutty flavour and slightly chewy bite, but if you are looking for a gluten free option, simply substitute for brown rice.