Asparagus with a Fried Farm Egg and Truffle Salt
Asparagus and eggs are a compatible duo that can meet in many ways: scrambled eggs with asparagus tips, an asparagus omelet or frittata, or grilled asparagus with a soft-boiled egg.
In this variation on the theme, the asparagus are boiled-steam them if you prefer-then topped with a fried farm egg "over easy" and a sprinkle of aromatic truffle salt. The runny yolk creates an instant sauce, and the truffle salt makes the dish restaurant caliber. Provide bread for sponging up the buttery puddles.
- 1 1/2 pounds asparagus of any thickness
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Black truffle salt (see Note) or fleur de sel
- Freshly ground black pepper
- To trim the asparagus, hold each spear horizontally between both hands and bend it. It will snap naturally at the point at which the spear becomes tough. Discard the tough end.
- Crack each egg into a small custard cup or bowl.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and boil until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes for medium asparagus.
- Lift the spears out with tongs and drain on a double thickness of paper towels or on a kitchen towel.
- Working quickly so the spears stay hot, pat them thoroughly dry and divide them between 2 salad plates.
- Put 1 teaspoon of butter on each portion and toss with your hands until the butter melts and glosses the spears. Season with truffle salt.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Add the remaining 4 teaspoons butter and swirl to coat the skillet as it melts. When it begins to sizzle and foam, carefully slide the eggs, one at a time, into the skillet, and reduce the heat to moderately low. Cook until the whites are set but the yolks remain runny, about 2 minutes. Adjust the heat so the butter browns lightly but does not burn.
- With a nonstick offset spatula (pancake turner), flip the eggs over, browned side up, onto the asparagus. Spoon any butter from the skillet over the eggs. Season the eggs with truffle salt and several grinds of pepper. Serve immediately.
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Yard-Long Beans with Sesame Seeds and Sesame Oil
Although the name suggests that these floppy beans reach a full three feet in length, they are more typically a mere 18 to 24 inches-still, a lot of vegetable to work with compared to the familiar Kentucky Wonder.
They resemble super-long pole beans but are closer to blackeyed peas botanically. Yard-long beans, cut into shorter lengths, stand up well to slow braising, and Asian cooks often stir-fry them with strong seasonings like bean paste.
Here, they are briefly blanched, then rewarmed with peanut oil, toasted sesame seeds, fragrant sesame oil, and cilantro. You could apply the same treatment to green beans, broccoli, asparagus, or spinach.
- 1 pound yard-long beans
- 1 generous tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- Kosher or sea salt
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
- 1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Trim the ends of the beans, then cut the beans into 4-inch pieces. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Add the beans and boil just until they lose their raw taste and soften slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let them become limp. Drain in a sieve or colander and shock under cold running water. Drain again and pat dry.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat. Add the beans and season generously with salt. (Beans need a lot of salt.) Toss to coat with the oil and cook until the beans are hot throughout.
- Stir in the cilantro, then remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Serve hot.
About Janet Fletcher:
Janet Fletcher trained at the Culinary Institute of America and at the celebrated Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California.
She is a food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, where her work has won three James Beard Awards. Janet has also written on wine and food topics for numerous national magazines, including Saveur, Food & Wine, Metropolitan Home, Fine Cooking and Bon Appétit.
She is the author or co-author of 20 cookbooks, including Fresh from the Farmers' Market, Four Seasons Pasta and Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing, and Enjoying, all from Chronicle Books.
Her next book, Eating Local, will be published in May 2010. My Calabria, a collaboration with Rosetta Costantino, will be published in November 2010. A certified Master Gardener who maintains a large edible and perennial garden, Janet lives in California's Napa Valley.
>> Buy this book on Amazon: Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers
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