"I never thought I’d be eating asparagus, much less for breakfast."
That was my husband on Saturday morning as he dangled a small chunk of roasted asparagus from his fork. He was just finishing up his breakfast of poached egg atop roasted asparagus spears with an Italian-seasoned ground almond crumble.
Just after he headed to the golf course, I started cleaning up the kitchen and discovered one asparagus spear still on his otherwise empty plate. I guess expecting him to eat up six asparagus spears was pushing my luck a bit too far.
I love asparagus. Steamed, roasted or grilled, just hand it over. Althought I strongly support the Buy Local movement, I just can’t stop myself from buying some of the first asparagus that appears in the grocery stores in the spring. Green and bright, my first asparagus each April truly is a rite of spring. Around here, asparagus is often harvested for the first time in June. That would seem a rite of summer.
I bought some asparagus last week when I was making Medley of Rice with Roasted Red Pepper and Asparagus. That recipe is in my column this week. I bought another bunch to make something I saw on a restaurant menu. It was listed as a brunch item — asparagus with poached egg and ground almonds. It wasn’t brunch time when I was reading the menu, but I made note of it in the small moleskine notebook that I carry in my purse.
This is my take on that dish that I was not able to try at the restaurant. Once again, I’ve roasted the asparagus. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a knack for making a perfectly poached egg. I cheat with silicone poachpods or my Nordic Ware egg poacher insert. But it seemed only proper that when I was making a restaurant-style poached egg dish, I had to go with the real thing.
I pulled out my 9-inch copper-bottomed pan with its lid. I filled it almost to the top with water, then poured in at least a tablespoon of vinegar. Once the water was boiling, I turned it down to a simmer, cracked each egg into a custard cup and slid the egg into the simmering water. I did two eggs. With a spoon, I moved the whites up close to the yolks. The covered eggs simmered gently for 4 minutes. They were done just the way I like them. If you prefer a runny yolk, simmer for just 2 or 3 minutes. Gently scoop the eggs out of the water and place on paper towels to drain. This will prevent a puddle of water on your plate. Perfect poached eggs.
If you’re not counting fat grams and calories, there’s a way to make this poached egg dish even more delectable. Serve it like eggs benedict on a buttered toasted English muffin topped with a slice of smoky ham or Canadian bacon, then the asparagus, poached egg and some homemade Hollandaise sauce. Top it all with a sprinkle of Toasted Almond Crumble. Eggs Benedict is my favorite out-for-breakfast pick. But, I’m trying to be more mindful of fat grams these days. And, I must say, this egg and asparagus are delcious served on their own.
When my husband and I finished our breakfast, I thought how nice it would have been to scatter some freshly grated Parmesan over the egg along with the Toasted Almond Crumble.
Asparagus for breakfast? Why not? Add a perfectly poached egg with toasted almond crumble and you will have a perfectly wonderful breakfast on a sunny morning in spring.
Roasted Asparagus with a Perfectly Poached Egg and Ground Almond Crumble
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears, washed, tough ends removed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
- Splash of fresh lemon juice, about a teaspoon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss prepared asparagus spears with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange asparagus spears in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet with sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 10 to 14 minutes, until spears are fork tender. Remove from oven and set pan aside.
While asparagus is in the oven, make Toasted Almond Crumble by heating 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet. Add garlic, almonds, 1/4 teaspoon salt and Italian seasoning. Stir over medium heat until almonds are toasted. This will take just 2 or 3 minutes. Immediately transfer almond mixture to a small bowl. Add lemon juice and blend. Set aside.
Pull out a 9- or 10-inch pan with a lid. Add water to about 1/2-inch from top of pan. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Break each egg into a custard cup, and slide into the water. When all the eggs are in the pan, use a spoon to scoop the whites close to the yolks, cover and set timer for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on how you want the yolk to be cooked.
Warm 4 plates in the oven while eggs are cooking. The oven should still be warm from the roasting asparagus.
Carefully transfer poached eggs to a paper towel to drain. Arrange 6 asparagus spears on each of 4 plates. Top with an egg. Sprinkle with Toasted Almond Crumble. Serve immediately (with whole grain toast that’s been cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter to really make your diners smile). Makes 4 servings.
Tip from the cook
When you’re shopping for Italian seasoning, look for a blend that does not include salt. This allows you to control the amount of salt used in your dish. I buy a blend that my Italian friend, Carmela, mixes and sells. Carmela’s Condimento is fragrant with dried basil, garlic, parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper. I’ll bet she’d send you a bag. Go to her blog and you can contact her: Carmels’s Cucina.