I adore asparagus and can happily eat it most days once it first appears in spring. Green or white? I adore both. Typically, it is served with melted butter or hollandaise sauce. Sadly, both of these options are forbidden and, consequently, I’ll serve my portion with either lemon juice or a vinaigrette dressing while my beloved enjoys his served with a poached egg. Sometimes, I’ll add boiled new potatoes and a slice of cooked ham or veal to turn his portion into a more substantial course. However, this recipe is my starter version.
Ingredients (serves 4)
The poached egg
- 1ltr (4 cups) boiling water
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 4 medium-sized eggs, fresh organic
The asparagus and spinach
- 1ltr (4 cups) boiling water, salted
- 20 medium-sized asparagus spears, trimmed to approx. same length
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 150g (2/3 cup) baby spinach leaves, washed
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp freshley squeezed organic lemon juice
- 2 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp non-scented vegetable oil
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp hazelnuts, toasted and lightly chopped
1. Start by making the dressing. Mix all the ingredients together, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside.
2. In a large, deep saucepan, on a high heat, bring the water, salt and vinegar to the boil. Crack each egg into its own individual small bowl or cup. Carefully stir the boiling water with a spoon to create a small whirlpool. Gently tip each egg from its bowl into the centre of the swirling water. Turn the heat down to medium so the water is simmering and cook the eggs for 3-4 minutes. I generally cook them two at a time.
3. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can make these in advance. Undercook and then reheat gently in warm water.
4. In another medium saucepan, bring the water to the boil with a pinch of salt. Cook the asparagus for no more than 3-4 minutes. The spears should still be al dente. Drain, arrange five spears on each plate and keep warm while dressing.
5. Wilt the wet spinach in a medium pan and sauté it in a little butter, keep warm. Add a tablespoon of spinach to each quintet towards the middle of the spears. Place the poached egg on the spinach, which should stop it from sliding off.
6. Dress the plate with the vinaigrette and scatter over the hazelnuts.
Sheree’s Handy Hints
1. Use only green asparagus spears. It doesn’t work as well with the white ones.
2. The dish is equally delicious without the egg and spinach if you prefer something simpler.
3. Do not overcook the aspargus. If you don’t like them boiled you can steam or oven-bake the spears.