This brunch is simple, fresh, and light, and it's one that I make only in the spring, when asparagus are plentiful and in season. But because of its simplicity, it’s one of those meals that will only taste as good as the ingredients you put into it.
In addition to fresh asparagus and delicate baby greens, I used farm-fresh eggs from the Waverly market, homemade bread (using the incredibly popular no-knead recipe), a freshly-squeezed lemon vinaigrette, and good parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Oh, and a touch of white truffle oil to make things decadent.
Each part of this dish is incredibly simple to prepare, but together, they combine to form a meal that is definitely greater than the sum of its parts (or however that saying goes).
Simple Spring Brunch:
mixed baby greens with lemon-parsley-caper vinaigrette,
grilled asparagus with parmigiano-reggiano,
grilled artisan bread, poached truffled eggs
2-4 eggs (depending on how many you want for each serving)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 thick slices of good bread (I used homemade no-knead bread; in the past I’ve used a French boule or ciabatta)
½ pound asparagus
2 teaspoons olive oil
Pinch of salt
A few grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon capers, drained and chopped
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 ½ ounces mixed baby greens (about 4 lightly packed cups)
½ ounce parmigiano-reggiano cheese, shaved into thin slices
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)
Depending on what you have, either heat a grill pan over high heat (I actually use a George Foreman mini grill – it was well worth the $20 investment!), or heat an oven to 400° F.
Fill a medium saucepan with water, cover it, and bring the water to a boil. Remove the lid and reduce the heat to medium-low so that the water is at a simmer. Add the vinegar. Crack one egg into a small bowl, then gently slide the egg into the water. Repeat this with the remaining eggs. Cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your eggs. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and set them onto a plate lined with a paper towel.
In the meantime, prepare the bread by grilling it for about 2-3 minutes on each side until it is lightly browned. If you do not have a grill pan, toast the bread in the oven for 3 minutes on each side – you can do this along with the asparagus.
If you are using thick asparagus, snap off and discard the woody end of the stem. If you are using pencil asparagus, you don’t need to do this. Wash and dry the asparagus. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper to a large dish and stir to combine. Put the asparagus in the dish and toss it to coat it with the oil. Place the asparagus stalks on the grill pan or onto a sheet pan. Cook the asparagus until they turn bright green, then cook for another minute. On a grill pan, this should take about 2-3 minutes for thin stalks and 4-5 minutes for thick stalks. In the oven, this should take a few more minutes than on the grill – 4-5 minutes, and 6-7 minutes, respectively.
While the asparagus are cooking, whisk together the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, parsley, capers, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
To serve, place half of the greens on one side of a large plate and top with half of the dressing. Place one slice of the toasted bread onto the plate, top it with one or two eggs, and drizzle the egg and bread with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of the truffle oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place half the asparagus on the plate and top with half of the shaved cheese. Serve immediately, preferably along with a mimosa.