May 11, 2013

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs

shaved asparagus salad with mustard vinaigrette

Spring, so we meet again… I’ve been looking forward to your arrival for quite some time. I believe that since the conception of this blog, I have had plans year in and year out to make a quintessential spring dish, one that highlights the ingredients that only the months of April and May can provide at their peak and full glory. But sadly, each spring seems to pass by in a blur, leaving my belly and this blog empty of English peas and ramps.

english peas

Ramps? (I see you scratching your head, deep in contemplation). I understand that at times I can feature recipes on this blog that are perhaps too complicated, too time consuming, too hard to procure their necessary ingredients, but I like to push myself. I like to cook with ingredients I’ve never used before, so that on the off chance I get thrown into an episode of Top Chef, Tom Colicchio would never be able to shake his head in disapproval at me.

fava beans and their waxy shells

I had every intention of using grilled ramps for this recipe (and pea shoots too), but the specialty grocer that I made a special, out of the way trip to, didn’t have a clue what I was searching for. Rants? Ranks? No, r-a-m-p-s. (I actually had to spell it out for the poor guy I offered my inquiry to). I suppose ramps are not only a seasonal ingredient, but a regional one as well. Living in the desert has its downsides…

raw asparagus ribbons

Perhaps it was for the best. Maybe this was my lesson to keep it simple and make dishes that are more readily accessible. Featuring recipes that are less complicated certainly makes it easier on myself. I’m sure you can tell by now that I’m not the best at updating this blog on a regular basis. It’s hard work! I constantly find myself with a never ending to do list (I know you can relate), and this poor blogging project of mine always seems to get the boot.

Keep it simple. This will be my strategy moving forward. And that’s the beauty of springtime produce. The ingredients are already so fresh and delicious, that it doesn’t take a whole lot of work to really make them sing. Now if only everything in life could be approached in the same way, I’d actually have some down time to take advantage of. Leave a comment below and share your tips on how you simplify things in your life. I’m in need of suggestions!

yolky poached egg and spring greens

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs 

Recipe by Karlie Kiser 
Champagne Mustard Vinaigrette adapted from Barefoot Contessa

There’s hardly any cooking involved with this recipe. A few minutes of steaming the fava beans and English peas, along with poaching the eggs, is all that’s involved; everything else is left raw and crisp. Fava beans are delicious and have a distinct buttery texture, but English peas are just as good (in my opinion) and are far easier to prepare. So if you’re trying to keep it simple, replace the fava beans with peas. Everything else will taste so lovely, you’ll hardly notice the difference.


½ lb fresh fava beans
½ lb fresh English peas
1 lb asparagus
1 bunch watercress
sourdough baguette
3 tbsp butter
¼ tsp garlic salt
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
distilled white vinegar
Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved into curls
1 lemon

Champagne Mustard Vinaigrette:
3 tbsp champagne vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large egg yolk
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
½ cup good extra virgin olive oil


1. Prepare the fava beans and English Peas: Fill a medium size pot about half way with water; season generously with kosher salt and bring to a boil. In the mean time, peel away the outer pods from both the fava beans and English peas. Fill a medium size bowl with ice water and set aside. First, place the fava beans in the boil water and boil for about 3-4 minutes. Immediately transfer to the ice water. Once cool, using a slotted spoon, remove the fava beans to a cutting board or other flat surface. Peel away the outer layer of skin from the fava beans. Next, boil the English peas for 5 minutes and place immediately into the ice water. Drain after a few minutes. No need to peel away an outer layer of skin for the peas. Set the fava beans and peas to the side.

2. Prepare the breadcrumbs: Using about 1/3 of the sourdough baguette, cut into ½-inch cubes and then pulse in a food processor to make crumbs. It’s ok if there’s a few larger pieces left over; they’ll be chewy and delicious. Melt the butter in a medium sized sauté pan. Add the crumbs, season with ¼ tsp garlic salt and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and sauté until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, egg yolk, kosher salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until they are completely emulsified. Set aside.

4. Poach the eggs: Using the same pot used to boil the beans and peas, wipe clean and fill with about 3 inches of water and add a splash of white vinegar. Break an egg into a small ramekin and bring the water to a rapid simmer, (but do not boil). Using a wooden spoon, stir the water quickly to create a whirlpool in the center. While stirring, slip the egg into the center of the whirlpool. Watch the water carefully, making sure it does not begin to boil, and let the egg poach for about 4-5 minutes. Gently scoop up the egg with a slotted spoon. The egg should jiggle lightly. If it’s still super jiggly and loose, you may need to continue poaching for a minute or two. Set the poached egg on a plate covered with paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

5. Wash and drain the asparagus. Use a vegetable peeler to shave each asparagus spear into long ribbon like strips. Toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice from half a lemon. To assemble the salad, place a small mound of watercress on each of four plates. Top with a nest of asparagus ribbons and a sprinkling of fava beans and English peas. Garnish with salt and black pepper to taste, Parmesan curls and breadcrumbs. Finish by topping each salad with a poached egg and a drizzle of champagne mustard vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings 

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