Monday, May 16, 2011

The "Oh My God" Meal

I'm not exaggerating one bit when I saw that I am deeply involved in a long-term love affair with food. In fact, I have a pretty hard time naming more than one or two foods I don't like. Luckily I also love to cook and grow my own food. New recipes are my friends, so much so that I subscribe to a couple cooking magazines and belong to a cookbook club with several fine ladies. I know it's always helpful to me to have other cooks' notes handy when I attempt a new recipe, so I'm going to start blogging some of my favorite dishes and sharing my tips. Pardon me if I omit the failures.

Last week I tried something new from Eating Well. This is my absolute favorite food and cooking magazine, and if I were ever forced to cut back to one subscription this would be the one I kept (but please, cooking gods, don't ever do that to me). Each issue of the magazine has some sort of featured ingredient, and last month's was asparagus. This happens to be my favorite spring vegetable. My mom used to prepare it steamed, but these days I'll eat it steamed, roasted, stir fried, and sauteed. I love asparagus.

So you can imagine how absolutely over the moon I was when I got last month's issue in the  mail and saw all the recipes it had inside: Indian-Spiced Chicken & Asparagus, Panko-Crusted Asparagus Spears, Asparagus-Goat Cheese Souffles (Eating Well loves a hyphen in a recipe title, by the way), and Asparagus Salad Topped with Poached Eggs.

That last one stopped me in my tracks. A whole salad based on asparagus? Poached eggs? How would that work...? I stored the recipe in the back of my mind and decided to come back to it some other time. And then suddenly the timing was right.

One of my coworkers raises free-range chickens in her yard, feeding them organic, high omega-3 feed and selling us the eggs for $2.00 a dozen (and no, I haven't told her what a steal that is). I got a dozen earlier in the week, and happened to have some leftover asparagus in my fridge from another recipe the week before. Clearly, the fates had aligned. Asparagus Salad Topped with Poached Eggs it was.

And oh my god, this meal was SO GOOD. Seriously, I loved it. I'd make it again in a heartbeat. I'll probably make it again a couple more times this spring, and all next spring. It's that yummy.

Oh, you're looking for the money shot?

Click on the photo to enlarge it and see how good that looks up close.

My mom noticed a couple decades ago that I tend to hum when I like the food I'm eating. I hummed the entire time I ate this meal. In fact, I'm humming right now as I remember it. 

Serves 4
  • 2 bunches asparagus (about 1 pound each), trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 7-ounce bag baby arugula (about 10 cups)
  • 1/2 cup thinly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Toss asparagus with 2 teaspoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon oil, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, shallot and dry mustard in the bowl. Set aside 4 teaspoons of the dressing in a small bowl. # When the asparagus is done, set aside to cool while you poach the eggs.
  4. When the asparagus is done, set aside to cool while you poach the eggs.
  5. Break each egg into its own small bowl. Fill a large, straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil. Add vinegar. Reduce to a gentle simmer: the water should be steaming and small bubbles should come up from the bottom of the pan. Submerging the lip of each bowl into the simmering water, gently add the eggs, one at a time. Cook 4 minutes for soft set, 5 minutes for medium set and 8 minutes for hard set. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a clean kitchen towel to drain for a minute.
  6. Toss arugula with the dressing in the large bowl. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Top with asparagus and a poached egg and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the reserved dressing. Garnish with cheese.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the dressing (Step 3) for up to 1 day. 

  • Tip: To make shaved cheese for topping salads or pasta, use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave slices off a block of hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago or Pecorino Romano. 
Per serving: 239 calories; 18 g fat ( 4 g sat , 11 g mono ); 217 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 13 g protein; 3 g fiber; 360 mg sodium; 534 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Folate (60% daily value), Vitamin A (53% dv), Vitamin C (38% dv), Calcium (23% dv), Iron (16% dv), Potassium (15% dv).

I poached my eggs for 8 minutes to hard set, but next time I'd probably go closer to 6 minutes. I don't love a super-runny egg, but a little bit more would have been nice. Also, in the future I'd go a little easier on the lemon zest - I felt like it overpowered a few bites of the meal.

I did alter a few things my first time out - something I don't usually do with new recipes. First, I used baby spinach because I buy a huge container of it each week for my lunches, so I had it on hand. Plus, I'm not a huge fan of that much arugula in a single meal. Second, I didn't have shallots and for whatever strange reason, the grocery store didn't have them either. I had a small amount of white onion leftover in the fridge so I used that instead. And even with the modifications, it was still SO GOOD.

In short: do you like asparagus? Do you like eggs? If you answered yes to both those questions, go and make this meal now, then come back and thank me later.


Amy in Austin said...

Wow- that looks amazing!!! Eggs, asparagus AND cheese? Yes, please. Thanks for posting the nutritional info too!

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