Some recipes are so simple they hardly can be called “recipes.” Take this one for instance. It’s a simple dish of cooked asparagus and hard-boiled egg swathed in a vinaigrette. Not exactly rocket science but then again if it’s not in your normal repertoire, maybe seeing it in a cookbook is what it takes to inspire you to toss these ingredients together.
This is the kind of salad that is standard fare in any Italian home, but for those whose ancestors do not hail from the land of Caesar, it’s also included in the new cookbook “Recipes from an Italian Summer.” The publisher recently sent the book to me and this recipe spoke to me since asparagus is fresh and bountiful in New Jersey right now.
The book, which contains many recipes familiar to readers of the classic “Silver Spoon” cookbook, is filled with lots of dishes as easy to put together as this one. But for more accomplished cooks, it also presents some challenges too, including a frittata cake layered with broiled eggplants and peppers. At some point I’m going to give it a whirl, but for today, that Jersey asparagus was calling me.
Anytime I prepare asparagus, I always peel it. I snap off the tough ends first, then trim the spears with a vegetable peeler. They cook in only three or four minutes this way, and you’re left with a tender stalk of asparagus that’s easy to eat, rather than battling those stringy outer skins with every bite.
I don’t know if you’ve got one of these gadgets, but they’re great for slicing eggs. To dice an egg, first slice it, then carefully pick it up, pivot the egg a quarter turn and slice it in the other direction.
Make your salad dressing and toss with the asparagus, then sprinkle the diced egg on top. Add some crusty bread and you’ve got a perfect lunch, or a nice side dish for a picnic or barbecue. Asparagus Salad
From “Recipes From An Italian Summer”
(Adapt amounts to your choosing. In the photo above I used only about one pound of asparagus and one hard-cooked egg. The rest of my changes are in red)
2 1/4 pounds asparagus (peeled)
4 hard-cooked eggs
olive oil, for drizzling
juice of 1/2 lemon, strained (I used white balsamic vinegar)
1 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
Tie the asparagus together, stand them in a tall pan of salted boiling water without submerging the tips, cover, and cook for 5-10 minutes, until tender. (Italians seem to like vegetables cooked longer, but I boiled the asparagus placing them flat in a shallow pan of boiling water for only four or five minutes. Peeling them first also shortens the cooking time)
Remove from the pan and arrange on a serving dish. Halve the eggs, scoop out the yolks (I used the whole egg including the white) and crumble them over the asparagus. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.