asparagus with soft-poached eggs, broad beans, lemon and chilli

yolklsFresh local asparagus is a wonderful thing; sweet, earthy, crisp and succulent. During peak season, it needs little more than a quick toss on the grill, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a speckling of flaked sea salt. Perfect in its simplicity.

For most of the year, Western Australians like myself only have access to imported asparagus; namely, cultivated crops from China, Thailand and Peru. Despite my commitment to locally grown food, I reluctantly admit that the short Western Australian asparagus season (from September to November) has led to desperate purchases of imported asparagus on a number of occasions this year. It feels terrible; the only redeeming thought is that I’ve possibly contributed towards a peasant’s wage somewhere in rural Asia. Idealism, I know.

asparagus1

However, this week marked the arrival of fresh Torbay asparagus at my local farmer’s market. When I saw the fat green spears amongst the locally grown kale and lettuces this morning, my heart jumped in locavore joy. Grown near the port city of Albany in the state’s south west, this asparagus is sweet, robust and earthy in flavour.

I squirreled home a bucketful, with fresh broad bean pods, shiny aubergines and a dozen of Ellah’s fresh, free-range eggs.

broadbeans

shellingbeans2

As per usual, my stomach rumbles as soon as I’ve visited the markets. After podding the broad beans, I trimmed the asparagus and quickly grilled the spears with a splash of good olive oil, some sea salt and chilli flakes. Topped with a runny, soft-poached egg, fragrant lemon zest and some grated Parmesan, we were soon in fresh asparagus heaven.

This dish is almost too simple for a ‘recipe’, however I’ve included a few of my cooking notes below for your reference. For a more substantial breakfast or lunch, I’d suggest adding some buttered, wholegrain toast and a sprinkling of hot-smoked salmon.

header

Asparagus with Soft-poached Eggs, Broad Beans, Lemon and Chilli

Serves 2

  • 8-12 asparagus spears (4-6 per person, depending upon size)
  • 1/4 cup podded, shelled broad beans
  • 2 free-range eggs (or 4, if you’d like 2 each)
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • finely grated rind of one lemon
  • freshly grated Parmesan
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Italian flat-leaf parsley to serve, if desired
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (for poaching the eggs)

Fill a medium saucepan with cold water. Cover, and place over medium heat whilst you prepare your vegetables.

Wash the asparagus spears, then snap off any woody ends (you will feel the shoot naturally ‘bend’ at the point where the spear is tender). Discard the ends, then scrape the outer surface near the end of the spear slightly to ensure that it cooks evenly.

bits

Heat a fry or grill pan over medium heat. Add in a splash of good olive oil, then toss in your asparagus spears. Agitate the pan, ensuring that the spears rotate, until their colour becomes vibrant green. Add in the shelled broad beans, some chilli flakes and sea salt. Fry or grill until the vegetables are tender and bright green with the slightest of grill marks from the pan.

Plate your asparagus and broad beans as desired, season with some salt and sprinkle over a little of the lemon zest. Set aside whilst you poach your eggs.

eggs

By now, your water should be boiling rapidly. Add in the 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (this helps hold the protein in the egg white together), then carefully lower each egg into the water, one at a time (Note: I don’t bother with the ‘whirlpool’ technique as I find it ineffective; if you’re concerned about poaching eggs and require a visual reference, you can follow Curtis Stone’s instructions on YouTube). The eggs will probably take about 2 minutes to cook with a perfectly runny yolk.

sandp ls

Carefully place your eggs upon the asparagus and broad bean mix. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle over your remaining lemon zest, a little Italian parsley (if desired) and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Optional extras: as above, this dish would go beautifully with some toasted wholegrain bread, hot smoked salmon, cured gravlax (yum!) or free-range bacon. You can also add some toasted flaked almonds or hazelnuts.

cheese

eggyolk

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84 responses

    • Haha, mine does that when I’m reading blog posts all the time. So many yummy food images… good thing I have to go to work or I’d probably be hungry all day (though, on second thought, that wouldn’t be a bad thing!) xx

  1. You’re so lucky to be in asparagus season – I’m so envious! Absolutely gorgeous photo – I love the blue, green and dark yellow yolk – mouthwatering! If it were me though, I wouldn’t be able to let the yolk spill out like that while I was photographing it – I’d have to be eating. You’re very restrained ;-)

    • Thank you so much lovely! Yeah, I hardly had to edit these photographs at all… the colours just worked beautifully together. And yes, it was hard watching that gorgeous egg yolk seep onto the plate. I didn’t wait very long before digging in… good thing the photos were usable! xx

  2. Laura, your photos are just so gorgeous. I am sure I have told you that before but I don’t mind telling you again. The dish is amazing! I can just imagine how delicious with the lemon and a little heat from the chili. And the creamy egg yolk … perfect!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words Danielle. You are lovely, inside and out. The dish was definitely delicious to eat… I loved every scrap and almost wanted to lick the plate! Farm fresh eggs and asparagus need very little to taste divine. Hope you are well lovely! xx

    • Hahahaa, I do exactly the same thing. All.the.time (slow learner, methinks!). Glad that you approve lovely, I think we have similar taste buds! Your recent post has me wanting to make palak paneer again. So yum xx

    • Thanks Ruby! Asparagus season is so exciting. I actually get visibly ecstatic when I see fresh local asparagus and broad beans at the market (my husband thinks that’s because I’m just a food freak, haha). Hope that you get to try this with your own local asparagus soon! xx

    • Thanks Conor. Yes, ours gets flown in from everywhere for the rest of the year. It looks nice but when it comes from thousands of miles away, I wonder what chemicals have been put on it so that it can survive the journey! Good idea re the food mile limit. I might impose the same restriction :)

  3. Fresh asparagus season is always so wonderful, isn’t it? I do sometimes buy out-of-season asparagus, but not often (although we sometimes get terrific quality stuff from South America). Lovely dish – that poached eggs is irresistible!

    • Thank you John! Yes, definitely agree… there’s nothing quite like fresh asparagus. Seeing as South America is much closer to you than to me, I think eating Peruvian or Sth American asparagus is pretty fine. When it appears in OUR supermarkets though, that’s when I think it’s probably not such a great idea (though my stomach still wants it!). Thanks for the kind words my friend.

    • I used to get worried about it but it’s actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it. I’d probably just advise you not to use the whirlpool method… I tried it a few times and ended up with watery egg soup! I do love poached eggs though. So delicious and easy x

    • I think that the eastern states have a slightly longer growing season but for some reason, Western Australia seems to produce only a very limited domestic supply. Oh well, makes it a little more special when it’s for a ‘limited time only’ right? Mother nature was the original marketing guru. And yep, delicious. I love soft-poached eggs!

    • Thank you so much Claudia! I do think that poached eggs and asparagus are the best of friends :) Re the wire basket, it was a little thrift shop find that has taken up residency on my growing prop shelf. I love it xx

    • Aw yay, glad that you’re getting the same blessing where you are! They’re wonderful. So, so much better than the imported ones (or even worse, frozen broad beans and canned asparagus, ick!). Thanks for the kind words lovely xx

  4. This is not just delicious but so healthy too! Sorry to go on, but did you know that eating asparagus are really good for the urinary tract and to help prevent urine infections? :)

    • Nope, I had no idea about that health benefit Sofia! That’s really good. I had heard about the fact that cranberry consumption can help reduce UTI’s but it’s good to know that asparagus is equally beneficial. Need to eat more :) xx

      • Cranberry is quite good for the infection is unfortunately already in place. Asparagus is good for prevention. (These are the cool things about studying plants in pharmacy :) )

  5. Love this. A perfect Spring plate. You just can’t beat fresh local asparagus – beats the imported stuff any day of the week, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit idealism when you’re desperate for a spear of this lovely veg. Gorgeous photos too.

  6. Firstly Laura, your photos are gorgeous, I can see you’re enjoying your new toy. Steamed asparagus with a poached egg, freshly ground pepper and crisp prosciutto is my all time fave. Local asparagus is in Melbourne from Aug to Jan , but I’ve been in WA for 3 months………….Enjoy it while you can!

    • Hahahaa, yes I’m loving it! Such a good camera. Makes taking photographs so much easier. Your asparagus dish sounds amazing. I do love asparagus with prosciutto but for some reason it’s been ages since I’ve made it. I envy the Melbourne asparagus season. Must be the fact that the weather doesn’t get as extreme over the early Summer months. I will be eating the local stuff as often as possible til it disappears! xx

  7. What a beautiful dish…just bursting with the season’s best. My mom adores asparagus, and I know she’d love this plate of food (as would I!) Thank you for sharing. I’ll be saving it for our spring here in the States.

    • Hello lovely Monet. Thanks for the comment. It’s funny having opposite seasons, you guys are entering the apple pie and pumpkin spiced latte weather whereas we’re breaking out the cold Coronas and salad tongs! Definitely give this a go when the season is right. It was so delicious xx

    • Farm fresh eggs are so much better than the supermarket ones. Are they more expensive where you are? Fortunately for me, a lot of the farmer’s markets actually sell eggs at a really reasonable price. So delicious and pretty economical. Thanks for the lovely comment. Good luck with your egg hunting! xxx

  8. So excited about asparagus season! I overdose on it every year. This recipe sounds gorgeous – lovely combination of flavours. Laura, your photos are perfection. My favourite is the second shot of the asparagus in the gorgeous basket. Just beautiful.

    • Haha, I do too! With good reason, as fresh asparagus is so delicious. Thanks for the kind comment about the photos Saskia. The little basket is a thrift store find. I squirreled it home and added it to my growing prop pile. It has little bottles for the different compartments. I get so excited about old things :) xx

  9. Absolutely beautiful Laura! LOVE that oozy poached egg sitting plump on top! So wonderful to make use of these special seasonal ingredients while they’re available. I have some asparagus to toss through some easy pasta tonight too – looking forward to it! :)

    • Thanks so much lovely. Yep, I agree… ingredients taste so much better when they’re fresh, seasonal and local! Hope that you enjoyed your pasta. Sounds delicious! I’m about to eat dinner too… leftover moussaka. Wish I had leftover asparagus to go with it! xx

    • Aw, thanks so much lovely. Yep, there’s nothing like farm fresh eggs… I didn’t edit those egg yolk shots at all, it’s just the gorgeously rich hue of a free-range, grain-fed chicken egg (the way nature was supposed to be!). Hope that you manage to try this. We were in absolute asparagus rapture for a whole ten minutes ;) xx

  10. Ooooh… I love everything in this dish!!! I love asparagus and… are broad beans the same as fava beans? They sure look the same to me – because I love those too! And eggs of course. A wonderful recipe, Laura.

    • Hello Stefano san! Thanks for the kind words as always. Yep, broad beans and fava beans are the same thing. I probably should’ve put that in the recipe… they get called ‘broad beans’ over here but I always remember the fava bean reference from Silence of the Lambs, haha (not that that is a good reference point! Argh!). The combination was delicious… and no coconut, yay (I’ve only just started to realize how much coconut I put in everything Stefano! Terrible).

      • Hello Laura san! :-)
        Thanks for clarifying my bean dilemma :-) I loved your reference to Silence of the Lambs – such a good movie!
        I like broad beans even in their simplest, most basic form which in the Italian tradition was to eat them raw along with sliced salame: such a nice contrast!
        Regarding coconut, I think it is actually great that you get to incorporate it into so many of your wonderful recipes – my bad that I do not like the flavor (ages ago, I would not have hesitated one second if I had had to choose between a Bounty and a Mars bar!) So apologies for always bringing this up! :-)

  11. Beautifully simple and delicious! Your asparagus threw me for a loop though, I was wondering where’d she get that?? Then realised you’re in Aussieland! I love asparagus season too, and though we have to wait a bit for ours, I may succumb to some out of season stuff just to make this oh so beautiful dish.

    Nazneen

    • It’s easy to forget how far away we are from each other in the world of blogging! I do the same thing, I start reading recipes and yearning for fresh berries or stone fruit, which we’ll need to wait a few months for over here! I do hope you can track down some good asparagus soon. This little dish was so delicious… I wanted another plate after I finished the first! xx

  12. That looks delicious! I didn’t realize asparagus was imported. I’m trying to stop eating imported food but its so hard to tell sometimes when they don’t put where its from. Not that you can trust when they do…

    • Yeah, I hate it when markets or supermarkets don’t put the country of origin on imported goods. The imported asparagus over here is easy to spot, as it’s pre-bunched and often tagged and barcoded with the country of origin. The local stuff is usually sold loose. It’s often all different widths and heights, never straight and uniform like the imported crop. I’m trying to eat local too, particularly with fruit and vegetables, as they retain more nutrients when they haven’t travelled for miles! We can only do our best though. You’re right, you can’t always trust labels! xx

    • I love farmer’s markets. I get so excited about the fresh seasonal vegetables and start contemplating what I can make with them whenever I go (food nerd, I know!). I think you’ll love this asparagus dish. It was such a wonderfully simple thing to prepare, but hugely rewarding to eat xx

  13. Something about this post tells me you had a blast in the kitchen! Looks as though you were able to really take your time, shoot some photos, grate a little this and that, shoot some photos, steam this, shoot some photos….etc. Love it.

    • Haha, you’re really insightful Seana. Yep, I had lots of fun. It was really easy to prepare so I took my time peeling beans and grating zest. When the ingredients are fresh and beautiful, it’s twice as fun to photograph them! Thanks lovely xx

  14. This is something I’m going to do tomorrow … I can’t afford the fresh asparagus just now – totally out of season .. and I have to lick my fingers the rest of the week … if I buy a bunch. But I have frozen that I will grill – I just love everything about this dish and that means your photos too. *smile Gravlax am I world champion on … done tons in my days. http://wp.me/p293Pw-1I7
    Will come back with my results. Your eggs are just perfect, you would have made into my kitchen staff because of them.

    • I actually thought of you when mentioning gravlax (or ‘gravad lax’, more accurately) Viveka! I ate lots of it when I was last in Sweden, my relatives bought a whole side of salmon and we ate it in the sunshine with friends. So delicious. I do hope that you enjoy this recipe. I would’ve loved to have worked in your kitchen!!! xxx

      • I’m know I will love your recipe …. but I adore your photos.
        Gravlax I often eat grilled – cut portions of the marinate side and flash grill it with boiled new potatoes and that fantastic sauce.
        I normally do a post about my outcome when I try comebodies recipe and I alway link back to the blogger that I have picked it up from. So look out.

      • When you come to visit … me in Landskrona will I make it for you. Also the Gravlax come out much better if the salmon side has been frozen first.
        Good luck to you.

      • I forgotten to tell you that when I stared as a chef .. we always served the skin grilled in stripes all rounded up with the gravlax on the plates. That is why we don’t slice the salmon so close to the skin, so there is meat left to grill.

  15. Gorgeous post, Laura! I have to say, that I think a perfectly poached egg is one of life’s greatest pleasures. This just takes that idea and knocks it up several notches! I love the combo of broad beans and asparagus…

    • I definitely agree re the poached eggs David. I love them. This recipe definitely did justice to the beautiful ingredients… when you have such wonderful fresh produce, very little needs to be done to it. Thanks my friend!

  16. I love this classical twist a lot too but do prefer the more delicate flavoured famous Belgian white asparagus, sold as White Gold. I will make this beautiful combination in Summer when it is Asparagus & broad bean season over here in Belgium! Beautiful, truly appetizing pictures, my friend! xxx!!! Waw even!

    • I don’t think I’ve ever tried white asparagus. I’ve seen photos of it but it’s hardly sold here so I haven’t tasted it. I bet your version would be gorgeous! Thanks for the lovely words xx

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