Warm Asparagus and Prosciutto Salad

February 2, 2010

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Ham and eggs go well together — it’s one of life’s certainties. This perfect union is as reliable as the adage that butter makes everything better. It’s just fact.

After a week full of uncertainties (namely a hit and run accident with my poor Mini Cooper in Northside), I want something reliable. No, I need something reliable.

Enter the most classic dish on earth: warm asparagus and proscuitto salad with poached eggs and crispy, garlic croutons. Two bites into this salad and I feel like I’m getting a comforting hug from an old friend.

When you break the egg with a fork, the egg yolk will create a warm, velvety dressing for the asparagus. The prosciutto will provide a lovely bite of salt and the sweet, reduced balsamic will tie everything together.

In a world with so many uncertainties, it’s good to know that some things will always be true — warm asparagus and prosciutto salad will always create one perfect bite after another.

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Warm Asparagus and Proscuitto Salad

  • The first step is to blanch some asparagus. Boil it for just a couple of minutes — you still want it to crunch — and then shock it in some ice water. The vegetables will stop cooking immediately and the vibrant green color will set. (You can reheat the asparagus in a saute pan later when you’re ready to serve.)
  • Poach some eggs in 6 inches of simmering water and 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Take a heavy spoon and stir the water in a clockwise direction to get the water moving in a circle and then slip the broken eggs into the water, one at a time. Poach for about 90 seconds. The whites should set and the yolks should be runny.
  • You can store the poached eggs in ice water until you’re ready to serve them — just carefully reheat them in simmering water for 30 seconds to warm them up.
  • For the croutons, heat a little bit of oil in a saute pan and throw in a bunch of torn country bread. Thomas Keller suggests tearing the bread slowly to get beautiful, feathered edges.
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of butter into the pan and a smashed clove of garlic. Slowly cook the bread until it absorbs all of the fat. The croutons should be warm and crispy when you serve them — just remember to remove the garlic clove.
  • Put some thin slices of prosciutto on a serving platter, along with asparagus, poached eggs and torn croutons.
  • Drizzle the platter with aged balsamic if you’ve got it. If you have regular balsamic, just heat it up for a few minutes on the stove top until it’s reduced, thick and syrupy. Top everything with a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a few pinches of kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

5chw4r7z February 2, 2010 at 8:53 am

Never thought of making croutons. We have a bunch of bread on hand, I might have to give it a try.

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Jill February 2, 2010 at 9:52 am

making croutons is the easiest part of this since i’ve done it before and they’re so much more yummy freshly made. the poaching (although i LOVE poached eggs), i’m afraid of, and i’ve only steamed asparagus. what do you find is easier or yields the best flavor – steaming or blanching? and how many times did it take you to get the poached eggs right? if you say the first time, i don’t know if i’ll believe you! but i’d hate to buy an egg poaching pan (which i’ve considered) if it’s this easy with a regular pot!

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Courtney February 2, 2010 at 9:59 am

I know! Homemade croutons are amazing! Steaming asparagus seals in the pretty green color just the same, if not better than blanching and it’s a bit healthier. I like blanching because I do a lot of prep work ahead and this allows the cooking process to stop immediately — so I don’t get soggy veggies.

Poaching eggs is actually super easy — but I always make 2 extra eggs in case they break. After I cool them in ice water, I cut around the edges with scissors to remove all of the unattractive edges — that’s because I’m a bit compulsive when it comes to presentation though. You definitely don’t need an egg poaching pan.

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