Monday, August 24, 2009

Not your average Asparagus Salad...

There are a few recipes that we've made in the past several weeks that I haven't gotten a chance to talk about, with one of them being this Asparagus Salad with Soft Poached Eggs, Prosciutto and Lemon-Chive Vinaigrette. We made this on a Saturday after we picked up a couple bundles of asparagus at one of our local farmers' markets and wanted a meal that was light and uncomplicated for lunch.

The vinaigrette in this dish almost stole the show - made by creating a base of lemon juice, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, fresh chives, a small clove of garlic and just a touch of Dijon mustard. When combined, a steady stream of fruity extra-virgin olive oil was whisked in, which brought the mixture together into a cohesive dressing.

After trimming the asparagus (done easily by just snapping the tougher ends of the spears off), they were steamed for a short couple of minutes to give them a little bend, leaving them tender with a bite. Use whatever steaming method you like - on the stove with a steamer insert or in the microwave for a speedier preparation. For the poached eggs, we broke each into a ramekin and then lowered the ramekins down into simmering water to cook them through. This keeps the eggs in a tidy round and I find I can keep a closer eye on getting them to the texture we like. However, if you are more proficient in dropping the eggs into a swirl of vinegar-laced water instead, have at it! You can even poach the eggs ahead of time if you like - slip them into icy water when they are ready, then drop them back into simmering water for just a few seconds to bring them back up to temperature.

Because we wanted this to be a little more substantial than what the original recipe called for, I did toast up a few slices of whole-wheat bread to serve this over. To assemble, we placed thin slices of salty prosciutto (so dreamy... I think I could live on prosciutto if it wasn't so darn expensive) onto the toasted slices, arranged the spears on top, set the eggs over and wrapped the plates up with a drizzle from that wickedly good vinaigrette. This is my (well, ours) preference, but with this dish, I really do think it benefits from keeping the yolks on the softer side, so when you pierce through its opaque shell, the liquid gold gently flows all over the asparagus. The richness from those yolks merges with the tangy dressing to propel this dish from excellent to impressive. If you're on the iffy side of not fully cooking your eggs through, try and seek out pasteurized whole eggs instead.


  1. Oh, love your way of doing poached eggs, will try that next time we want some eggs!!
    I am one that have not yet gotten right the swirl of boiling water method... I keep trying though! :o)

  2. Kim - yeah!

    Ana - It does make life easier, that's for sure!