April is here, and with it the thaw of a Washington winter first shows itself in the stalls of the local farmers’ markets in the guise of tender shoots of asparagus. Later in the season, asparagus needs to be peeled of its woody layers, but this time of year all you need is a pot of boiling salted water or a bit of olive oil and a grill.
Asparagus is best when done simply, and in the test kitchen we try to keep things simple. A simple grilled asparagus with brown butter vinaigrette and poached egg makes for a great appetizer or side accompaniment to any dinner. Feeling a little adventurous? Try it with a Fried poached egg for a textural twist. The asparagus-fennel salad with pecorino makes a fantastic light lunch. Asparagus is available year round, but at its best in spring. Try these recipes from the test kitchen for a great way to welcome Spring.
Grilled Asparagus, Poached Organic Egg, Brown Butter Vinaigrette, (for 4)
1 Pound Asparagus, trimmed
2 tsp olive oil
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
4 each large eggs, Organic cage free
4 ounces whole butter
1 shallot minced
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chives, minced
Salt and fresh ground pepper
- Heat a gas grill or overhead broiler. Toss the asparagus in the olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill or broil the asparagus 3-4 minutes or until just tender. Remove and keep warm on a serving tray.
- Meanwhile, place the butter in a sauce pot over medium high heat and bring to a simmer until the foam has risen and receded and the butter is browned (It should smell remotely of hazelnuts.)
- Place the shallot, vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil into a bowl. Heat the vinegar mixture over low heat or in a microwave to bring just above room temperature. Remove, whisk in the browned butter slowly to make a smooth dressing, add the chives and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring ½ gallon water to a simmer. Add a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of distilled white vinegar. Poach the eggs until the just whites have set. Drain and top the asparagus with the still warm egg.
- Pour the warm dressing over the asparagus and serve immediately, though your guests may not give you the chance to get it to the table!
Alternative suggestion: Asparagus with a crisp Fried Poached Egg
- Poach the eggs as instructed but place immediately into ice water.
- Cool, carefully drain and place onto a plastic lined plate. Place the eggs into a freezer for 15 minutes to make them easier to handle.
- Prepare a breading mixture of separate seasoned flour, 3 parts whisked eggs 1 part milk, and fine bread crumbs.
- Take the heavily chilled but not yet frozen eggs from the freezer, pass each one carefully first through the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the bread crumbs, coating each well so that there are no cracks. Place back into the refrigerator. At service time, heat 1 inch of salad oil or light olive oil until shimmering. (Hint: a drop of water should sizzle and evaporate on contact if the oil is hot enough).
- Gently lower the breaded eggs into the oil, frying 1 ½ minutes on each side until golden brown. Scoop out with a slotted spoon, drain briefly and top the asparagus with fried poached egg and the brown butter vinaigrette.
- Serve immediately and watch as your guests marvel at the soft poached, crisp fried egg!
Asparagus- Fennel Salad with pecorino for 4
½ pound asparagus – green and white if available
1 medium fennel bulb
1 vine ripe tomato, sliced into thin strips
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 basil leaves, rough chopped
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 head bibb lettuce, washed and torn
1 head frisee or baby red oak, optional, washed and torn
4 ounces pecorino, shaved
- Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water, cool immediately in ice water. Drain and slice into 2” bias slices. Cut the fennel bulb in thin cross slices, place directly into ice water to crisp the fennel.
- Make the dressing: whisk the vinegar and mustard together, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the basil, season with salt and pepper.
- Drain the fennel. Mix the fennel, asparagus, and tomatoes with the dressing. Divide the lettuces onto 4 plates; top each generously with the dressed asparagus.
- Sprinkle with the shaved pecorino and serve, ideally with a loaf of crunchy artisan bread.
What’s on YOUR plate today?
...I've been looking for a great fried poached egg technique for awhile..and this