The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

asparagus, basil and sesame wraps

jump to recipe

The European Food Safety Authority recently began a review of the temporary ban on neonicotinoid pesticides imposed two years ago by the European Union (EU) in response to evidence about the harmful effect of these chemicals on bee populations.

The evaluation is due to be completed by January 2017 and it could lead to the ban being lifted or maintained.

Since its introduction, the multinational pesticides manufacturers Bayer and Syngenta have lobbied hard to have the ban lifted, despite the fact that evidence continues to accumulate about the role neonicotinoids are playing in declining bee numbers.

These chemicals are designed to attack insect pests by targeting their central nervous system, resulting firstly in paralysis and then death. However, they are not able to distinguish between a “pest” and a beneficial insect. Thus, as well as bees, evidence suggests that neonicotinoids cause harm to other beneficial insects such as ladybirds, lacewings, ground beetles and parasitic wasps and mites. These are species that contribute to agriculture in various important ways – through pollination, by acting as natural pest controls, and by enhancing soil quality and maintaining vital ecosystems.

Despite the mounting evidence, the UK government has consistently supported the multinationals’ claim that neonicotinoids do not represent a threat to our bee populations. No doubt it will maintain that stance if the EU moves to maintain or extend the ban. In fact, the UK government not only opposed the EU ban when it came in, last year it also used its powers to temporarily relax the ban in some parts of England, all too readily acceding to pressure from pesticides companies and the National Farmers Union.

Organisations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and 38 Degrees continue to campaign against any further “relaxations” of the ban in the UK. Please keep a look out for – and support – any on-line petitions from these or other organisations calling on the government to maintain the ban.

The one advantage we individuals have over the multinational corporations is that we have a vote, and ultimately it is votes that are the lifeblood of politicians. It was people pressure that led to the neonicotinoid ban being introduced in the first place, and it will be down to people pressure to ensure that it stays.

harvested asparagusbasil growingsesame oilasparagus wrap preparation

On to the recipe.

Asparagus is one of the many plants that depend on bees for pollination (in fact, without bees and other pollinators we would lose three quarters of the fruit and vegetables upon which we currently rely).

The glorious English asparagus season arrived slightly earlier than usual this year, due to the mild winter and spring weather. This very simple dish is a good way to enjoy these delightful harbingers of all the wonderful seasonal produce yet to come.

asparagus, basil and sesame wraps


12 asparagus stems
2 sheets filo pastry
12 basil leaves
100 ml toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds (white and black)


1. Remove any woody stems from the asparagus (do this by holding the asparagus spear in one hand about two thirds of the way down from the delicate tip. In the other hand hold it near the base. Gently bring your hands towards each other, bending the asparagus spear until it snaps. Steam the spears for 2 minutes then refresh under cold water and drain.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4). Cut each sheet of filo pastry into six roughly equal pieces, each around 10 by 15 cm. Brush the filo with sesame oil. Place a basil leaf in the top right hand corner of the pastry and place a single asparagus spear on top. Carefully roll the pastry around the asparagus and basil so that you end up with a cigar shaped wrap.

3. Place the wraps on a lightly oiled baking tray. Brush the surface of each wrap with more sesame oil and sprinkle over a pinch of sesame seeds. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Leave to cool. Serve with a dip (such as home-made sweet chilli dipping sauce)

Categories: dairy free, vegan

Tags: , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. I love it! Looks really, really good.

  2. The neonics issue is one I follow quite closely too. Although our Environment Minister did support the ban on the use of neonics this summer, the companies are still determined to keep going until they get the green light to restart use of these noxious chemicals here in the UK. I have also read this week that our ‘favourite’ neonic-producing company, Bayer, are now looking to take over another ‘favourite’ company of mine … the ‘Round-Up Ready’, GM-supporting behemoth, Monsanto, no less! I agree, we must be vigilant and support every campaign to safeguard our Very Important Pollinators and our own food chain.

    • Yes, the potential take over of Monsanto by Bayer is a very interesting (and alarming) development. It’s not so long ago that Monsanto tried to take over the other major player in the neonicotinoids field, Syngenta. These huge companies already hold way too much power and influence. Having global operations in so many countries allows them to exert considerable pressure over individual governments and politicians. Time and again this has led to decisions made in the interests of these companies rather than in the long term interests of humankind, and the two are often mutually exclusive.

      • yes, it’s not a pretty picture, the joining of Monsanto and Bayer – lots of people out protesting about it around the world this weekend, I just read. I know Monsanto’s shares had been tumbling and I believe Bayer’s idea is to bury the Monsanto brand as they feel it has become toxic (no pun intended!). Seems to me Bayer will just be looking to pick up the reins, rebrand and carry on as usual. These multi-national corporations really are a menace … and TTIP is their wish list come true, if it were to succeed.

  3. As a beekeeper, I sign every petition going! So, thanks for this important message, Steve. I MUST try that recipe too this coming week with lots of lovely seasonal asparagus now available locally here in Worcestershire.

  4. YUM! These look gorgeous. Wonderful post too.

  5. Fabulous thoughtful article as usual. Beautiful simple recipe too. I have a rather large asparagus patch and just love it!! One of my favourite ways to eat it, is raw, straight from the garden,sweet and beautiful.

  6. Definitely going to give these a try as a starter/canape when I next have people round. What a brilliant but simple idea. Thanks! Becky at

  7. Too much to explore in your site, with great food and stunning photographs!!

  8. I’m falling in love with the recipes you post, this asparagus wraps look amazing!

  9. Reblogged this on Blog of a Mad Black Woman and commented:
    “The glorious English asparagus season arrived slightly earlier than usual this year, due to the mild winter and spring weather. This very simple dish is a good way to enjoy these delightful harbingers of all the wonderful seasonal produce yet to come.” ~ The Circus Gardener’s Kitchen


  1. A Cloned Meal | Viewing Party

Leave a Reply