This tasty nibble is simplicity and elegance itself. Roast some asparagus, fry an egg and serve it all with a few shards of salty, tangy Pecorino cheese. This makes for a fast but fancy breakfast or an easy dinner.
We placed it atop some crusty Italian bread to catch the runny bits. While very tasty and effective, that made for slightly awkward eating as the asparagus proved elusive to bite into. Next time, I'd serve the bread alongside to wipe up the sauciness instead.
This recipe comes from one of my recent finds at the library, Osteria by Rick Tramonto. It's full of simple, but satisfying recipes like this one. I'll be trying more soon.
The asparagus for this can be grilled, blanched or roasted, as we did. Whatever works for you. I like the way roasting intensifies the flavor.
I tried a couple of different Pecorinos at the market to see if I could distinguish a difference. They were remarkably distinct. A Pecorino Nero was softer, milder, richer and creamier. The Pecorino Toscano was more of what I was looking for...salty, tangy and a little sharper. It made for a better compliment to the roasted asparagus and rich runny eggs. I'm not usually a fan of runny eggs. I like them firm, not wobbly. But in this case, the runny yolk from a softly fried egg makes the perfect sauce.
I love how these humble ingredients when combined make for such elegant eats.
Note: go easy on the salt here, as the cheese is salty enough.
Asparagus & Eggs
1 bunch (1 pound) asparagus
salt & pepper
4 ounces Pecorino Toscano cheese
crusty, chewy Italian bread, split into slices
First, brush your bread with a little olive oil and toast it under the broiler. Remove when ready and leave the broiler on. You'll want 4 slices.
Snap the ends off of the asparagus spears to remove the woody bits.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a large roasting pan and spread it around with a brush or paper towel.
Align the asparagus in the pan so that the spears are all flat and touching the bottom of the pan (instead of jumbled). This will make for better caramelization.
Drizzle a bit more olive oil over top of the asparagus and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Roast them under the broiler for 3-4 minutes (depending on the fatness of your asparagus) and then pull them out and flip them over with tongs. Put them back under the broiler for about 2 minutes more. Keep a close eye on them.
While the asparagus is roasting, melt a thin pat of butter and a little bit of olive oil (to prevent burning) in a skillet. Add an egg, or if your skillet is big enough, two, and fry them softly, sunny side up. I placed a lid over the skillet for a moment to help the top cook faster without having to flip it over. Be careful not to cook too high or fast -- you don't want the yolk to solidify.
Place a pile of asparagus on a plate. Top with two eggs and then use a veggie peeler to shave shards of the Pecorino over the eggs. Serve with the toast alongside.
Repeat frying with two more eggs for the second serving.
Adapted from Osteria by Rick Tramonto.