Spring is in the air! Asparagus with soft-cooked egg sauce

In a little over a month, spring will arrive. 🥳 Here in Los Angeles, where people often say that seasons don’t exist, the signs of an approaching spring are everywhere. Plants are starting to perk up with new delicate shoots, the days are getting longer and more people are out and about on the streets and in parks. People are beginning to put the warm soulful stews of winter out of their minds and beginning to think about the bounty of springtime vegetables – like asparagus!

Asparagus and eggs are one of my favorite springtime recipes. Originating from the Veneto region of Italy and called Asparagi da Bassano, it’s named after the town of Bassano del Grappa which is the legendary home of one of Italy’s most famous drinks – grappa! It was often said that the “royalty got the good wine and the serfs got the grappa (and made more serfs”). 😁

A combination of asparagus and eggs is a sure sign that spring is here and Easter is not far away. When I traveled to the Veneto region of Italy, I saw this dish prepared with white asparagus which is just asparagus grown in the dark to deprive it of green-giving chlorophyll. I personally think green asparagus has a better flavor so I’ve never hunted down white asparagus.

By preparing the eggs to just soft-cooked, you get a nice creamy texture for the sauce. Asparagus with egg sauce would make a great sit down appetizer or as a vegetable side to accompany a light dish like fish or chicken. This dish is wonderful served with the Veneto’s other famous export – Prosecco.

As with any dish that has this few ingredients, the quality of those ingredients makes the taste. So use the best you can find. Early in the springtime, asparagus tends to be pencil thin later growing to quite a fat size. Both taste great and just the cooking time varies. Many people will tell you to peel asparagus but I’ve never done it. Just snap them as I describe in the recipe.

Yes, springtime is almost here! Enjoy!

Buon appetito! 🥂 Joey

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Asparagus with soft-cooked egg sauce


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 large or jumbo eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, more to taste
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar, more to taste
  • ¼ tsp salt, more to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 8 oz. fresh asparagus, untrimmed

Instructions

  1. In large pot, place your steamer insert and add enough water to fill to right below the insert’s bottom. Cover and heat over high heat until boiling. While heating, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. You’ll use this same bowl for “shocking” the asparagus.
  2. Place the eggs in the insert and lower the high to barely boiling (a high bowl risks cracking an egg). Cover and steam the eggs for 9 minutes. Make VERY SURE to not let the pot run dry. Add hot water to the pot if needed. When the eggs are steamed, put them in the ice bath to cool.
  3. Prepare the asparagus by removing the woody bottoms. Simply take one spear, holding each end with a hand, and snap it away from you to find the natural break point. Trim the remaining asparagus to this length with a knife.
  4. If needed, add more water to the pot with steamer insert, cover and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus. Steam until the asparagus is tender but still with a little crunch. This will depend on the thickness of the asparagus. Start checking pencil thin asparagus at 3 minutes and fat asparagus at 5 minutes.
  5. When the asparagus is done. Remove the eggs from the water bath and plunge in the asparagus until cool. This will “shock” them to retain the nice green color.
  6. Remove the asparagus from the water and carefully put on paper towels to dry. Pat the top of the asparagus with more towels to dry them well.
  7. Gently crack the shell of the eggs on a hard surface and peel the eggs. Give them a quick rinse in the water bath to remove any shell bits. Place in a small bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggs to the point that some pieces of the yolk and white are still visible. For starters, add 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp of red wine vinegar and ¼ tsp salt. Mixture together to form a rough paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning  as you like. Finally, add a little ground black pepper. The sauce will flavor all the asparagus so it should have a good punch!
  8. On a serving platter, carefully arrange the dried asparagus with all the tips pointing the same way. Sprinkle some salt over all the asparagus. Then gently spoon the soft-cooked egg sauce over the asparagus as shown in the pictures.
  9. Serve family style with everyone taking some asparagus and sauce. Enjoy!

Notes

Special equipment:

  • Pot with strainer insert

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