I was looking for a relatively mild and crumbly semi-soft British cheese to go with the wonderful asparagus that's peaking now. Two worked particularly well here – Seator's Orkney, a young cow's milk cheese with plenty of clean acidity, and Ticklemore, a goat's cheese from Devon that is mild yet very fresh. Both are available from Neal's Yard Dairy in London. Serves four.
½ small red onion
1 crushed garlic clove
2 tsp white-wine vinegar
½ tsp aged balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
400g asparagus spears, woody bases removed
3 small ripe tomatoes (around 200g)
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped mint
100g fresh and crumbly cheese
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
First, cut the onion into 0.5cm dice and place in a bowl along with the garlic, both vinegars, the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Stir, then set aside so the onion and garlic will soften and mellow a little.
Make an ice bath by filling a bowl with ice and cold water. Bring a pan of water to a boil, drop in the asparagus and cook for two minutes. Drain, plunge the spears into the ice bath to stop the cooking, then drain and dry.
Heat a ridged griddle pan until almost smoking, then lay in a few spears at a time, perpendicular to the grill lines. Cook for two minutes a side, just until you get nice char marks, remove and leave to cool. Repeat with the remaining spears.
Quarter the tomatoes, remove and discard the seeds, and use a small, sharp knife to cut them into just under 1cm square dice. Add the tomatoes and herbs to the marinating onion, season and stir gently.
Arrange the asparagus on serving plates and spoon the tomato salsa around their centre. Use your fingers coarsely to crumble the cheese and sprinkle over the salsa. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil over the tips and bases of asparagus, and possibly also a sprinkle of salt, depending on the saltiness of the cheese.
• Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi in London. His new book, Plenty, is published by Ebury at £25. To order a copy for £23 (including UK p&p), go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0330 333 6846.