Asparagus with harissa butter and coriander gremolata

Diana Henry’s asparagus recipe with harissa butter and coriander gremolata. Rose harissa adds a punchy note to this zingy starter.


  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 3½ teaspoons rose harissa
  • A pinch of salt
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • 30 asparagus spears


  • 1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander
  • Zest of 2 limes, removed in strands


  1. Make the harissa butter by mashing together the soft butter, harissa, salt and lime juice.
  2. If your asparagus is young and slim, you shouldn’t need to do anything to it. If the spears are thicker or older, remove the woody bits by bending each spear until it snaps – there is a natural break above the woody bit.
  3. Steam the asparagus, or cook the spears standing up in a covered pan with their bases in a little boiling water. Cook until just tender – you don’t want them to be too soft. The time depends on the thickness of the spears – it can take anything from 3½ to 7 minutes. Test with the tip of a small, sharp knife.
  4. While the asparagus is cooking, make the gremolata. Put the chopped garlic, chopped coriander and lime zest on a cutting board and chop them together quite finely.
  5. Remove the asparagus spears from the pan and immediately put them into a clean tea towel to soak up some of the excess water. To serve, put the asparagus onto a warm platter with knobs of the harissa butter. Allow it to melt a little, then scatter over the gremolata.