What a fine spell of weather we’re having. I can’t remember when we last had such an extended period of lovely warm sunny days.

As I write this piece there’s not a cloud in the sky, and I’m in a tremendous hurry to finish typing, so I can get outside and play in the garden. Long may all of this continue!

Yesterday we even braved a barbecue, and there wasn’t a drop of rain to spoil the fun, just beautiful views along the Colne Valley and up to the ‘tops’, which lay resplendent in the late afternoon sunshine.

And as part of the barbecue feast, we enjoyed a couple of ingredients that are absolutely at their peak season right now, British asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes.

Our own British asparagus, grown almost anywhere in the country that sits atop a good well-drained sandy soil, is just incredible. At home we eat pounds of the stuff during it’s sadly all-too-brief season. It’s always a wrench to see it disappear from the shelves for another year.

Compared to the airfreighted stalks sold year round, British asparagus has a beautiful deep green colour when cooked, and a delicate, aromatic flavour that’s unsurpassable.

The Jersey Royal, too, in a good year, can be one of the very best salad potatoes around, with bags of delicious nutty flavour that only a spud grown in fine, rich soil can yield.

You can try growing your own (the variety is actually called International Kidney) but in our clay-based soils you won’t get as good a result. It’s such a wonderful coincidence that they both reach their optimum around the same time of the year, because they get on famously.

Jersey Royals

Whether you’re just boiling them in water and slathering them in salted butter – and there’s not much to improve on that – or roasting them with a drizzle of good olive oil, the combination of that wonderful tender asparagus with the fluffy, deeply tasty potato is hard to beat.

More often than not, a sprinkle of good sea salt and a grind or two of black pepper is all the accompaniment they need. But they work well in recipes too, and here’s a terrific salad that makes a wonderful accompaniment to grilled steaks, fish or poultry, or with a good old Sunday roast chicken.

Of course, it makes a good dish in its own right; add a wedge of good crusty bread, perhaps a glass of rosé, and you’re good to go. We’re roasting the potatoes here, along with some radishes for crunch and colour, then tossing in lots of fresh asparagus and some watercress.

Stephen Jackson's garlic chicken with lemon, dill and olives

You could, of course, add whatever you fancy – slices of avocado, perhaps, or some good cherry tomatoes, maybe even some cubes of mild goat’s cheese. The dressing is a delightfully creamy herb concoction made with buttermilk, very similar to the famous ‘ranch’ dressing that’s popular in the US, and it works really well here, adding colour contrast in addition to that cool, creamy herb taste.

I finished my salad with some toasted buckwheat – a favourite of mine, and a doddle to make – which adds a wonderful crunchy nuttiness to each bite, but croutons or pine-nuts would also work.

Find your favourite, but don’t forget those all-important spears and spuds.

Warm summer salad of asparagus and Jersey Royals

(serves 4-6)

For the salad:

500g British asparagus

900g Jersey Royal potatoes

300g salad radishes, trimmed

Two large bunches fresh watercress

A little olive oil

Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper

For the buttermilk dressing:

125ml mayonnaise

125ml buttermilk

Buttermilk

One tablespoon cider vinegar

A splash of fresh lemon juice

One small bunch flat-leaf parsley

One small bunch chives

One small banana shallot, finely minced

Two sprigs tarragon

One teaspoon whole-grain mustard

Maldon salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Extras:

200g buckwheat

A little sunflower oil, for deep-frying

Let’s get the toasted buckwheat made first; heat a couple of inches of sunflower oil in a suitable medium-sized pan until it reaches about 180ºC. Set a sieve over a metal bowl. Set out a tray lined with plenty of kitchen roll. Add the buckwheat to the pan carefully, and sizzle, stirring constantly, until it becomes a deep golden-brown colour, rather like toasted hazelnuts. Quickly strain through the sieve and allow to drain completely, before transferring to the lined tray. Spread the buckwheat out in a thin layer and press more kitchen roll on top, so that as much of the residual oil as possible is removed.

Keep the buckwheat warm as you prepare the salad.

Next, let’s do the dressing; chop all the herbs finely and toss into a bowl along with the other ingredients, bringing it together into a smooth, creamy dressing flecked with green.

Season to taste, and chill until required. Heat a large pan of salted water and, when bubbling, add the potatoes. Cook until just about tender, then drain them and, when cool enough, split the big ones in two lengthways, leaving the smaller potatoes intact.

Heat the oven to 220ºC / Gas 7. Halve the radishes. Toss the potatoes and the radishes together in an ovenproof dish, along with a good slug of olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

Roast, shaking the tray occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are nicely golden. Set a fresh pan of well-salted boiling water to boil, and blanch the asparagus spears until just cooked, then drain them and chop into manageable pieces.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and toss quickly with the asparagus. Arrange the watercress on a suitable serving plate and spoon over the potatoes, radishes and asparagus. Dress the plate liberally with the buttermilk dressing, finish by sprinkling over plenty of the crunchy buckwheat, and serve immediately.