After a very hectic winter quarter, there is finally time to cook good food. Not that we haven’t been eating, or even that the food wasn’t good, but cooking hasn’t been at the forefront of our lives for many weeks now. Of course, there was the Thai food phase, something that has happened every so often ever since I bought my first cookbook (Quick and Easy Thai), usually resulting in an overdose of spicy curries and Paht Thai. And Peter has been absolutely incredible at producing four whole wheat baguettes every week so that we can make sandwiches for lunch. Beyond that, however, I wouldn’t say there was much going on, the occasional vegetable steamed or sweet potato baked, but nothing to write home about.
In an effort to find some cooking inspiration I looked again at the wonderful Italian recipe book by Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber, In Late Winter We Ate Pears. When I say that the recipes range from trivial to intense, I am not joking. One recipe is simply to eat pears with slices of parmesan. That’s it. Another is for making egg pasta from scratch. I have yet to make a single recipe from this book that hasn’t been an immediate favorite (meatballs with orange and mint, chocolate ricotta puddings, simple green beans with olive oil and lemon, and over a dozen others). What constantly surprise me, however, are the simplest of recipes: fresh figs with balsamic vinegar and mint (the recipe that made me realize I liked fresh figs after all), a number of extremely easy pasta recipes (usually involving copious amounts of parmesan), a simple chicken breast sauted in butter (unbelievably good), and of course the subject of today’s recipe: cooked asparagus topped with a fried egg.
Asparagus has always been one of my favorite vegetables, and for a majority of my life I have been content to eat it with butter and salt and nothing else. Then there was the discovery of Hollandaise sauce, which is a mixture of 3 egg yolks, 3/4 cups butter, 1-3/4 tablespoons lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons water. Needless to say only a fraction of a batch is enough to feed two people, but it is so very good… Asparagus with fried eggs is like a healthier version of this: steam asparagus, toss with a bit of butter, fry eggs only until the whites are set, and place the fried eggs on the asparagus, letting the runny yolk create a creamy sauce for the asparagus (and don’t forget to sprinkle a little parmesan over everything for good measure). So easy it deserves a Simple Saturdays tag. For those of you addicted to the usual recipe format:
Asparagus with Fried Egg
1 small bundle of fresh asparagus
1 egg (or 2, if you’re hungry)
1 tablespoon butter (or less)
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Wash the asparagus and cut off the tough ends (perhaps an inch?). Steam the asparagus only until the ends are tender; don’t overcook! You could alternatively boil the asparagus in lightly salted water. Melt half of the butter in a pan and add the cooked asparagus, mixing gently to coat and seasoning with salt and pepper. Place the asparagus on a plate. Rinse or wipe out the pan before heating the other half of the butter at medium-low heat. When the butter is hot, add the egg and fry slowly until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny. I usually cheat and flip the egg over just to make sure the whites are cooked. Put the fried egg on top of the asparagus and let the yolk break, creating a sauce. Finish with a light grating of parmesan cheese and serve hot.