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Hope springs eternal when the Farmers’ Market opens after a long sleepy winter. While a few of the overwintered stalwarts still linger, delicate baby lettuces, baby kale, pea shoots, tomato plants, bedding plants, and herbs line up side by side, fluttering through the cool Spring breezes.

Every gentle leaf ushers in the new season with a subtle relaxed joy.  Closeup of many asparagus bunches on display at farmers market during summer

Although I’m keenly aware of the reawakened abundance of the early season market, I’m always a wee bit surprised when spring asparagus quietly appears.

Without much fanfare, bunches and baskets dot most every farm stand. Vibrant beacons to a fresh beginning, I imagine asparagus patches tucked in and around the fields of our local farms. Tempted to overplay my windfall by roasting, grilling, or wrapping them in prosciutto, I kept it very very simple to let the fresh spring asparagus sing.

Typically, I gravitate toward long lazy braises, frenzied high heat sautees, or charcoal/wood grilling. Unctuous gravies, rich pan sauces, and smoky nuance make me happy. Sometimes, it’s fun to change things up. Why drag out the big guns when all I needed was a pot of simmering water?

 

Asparagus with Poached Eggs.

Simple is as simple does.

I trimmed the ends off of a gorgeous bunch of Silas Farm spring asparagus and used a vegetable peeler to peel the ends before dropping them into a large pot of salted boiling water. After 3 minutes, I pulled the blanched asparagus from the hot bath, plunged the spears into salted iced water, patted them dry, and tossed them with a light fresh lemon vinaigrette.

Few things rival a perfectly poached egg.

That said, a perfectly poached egg can be an elusive beast. Some eggs behave badly and some don’t. Sometimes they break, run, flail, or overcook. Don’t sweat it. A watchful eye and a little coddling goes a long way.

After filling a deep sided sauce pan with water, I brought the water to a perky simmer before adding 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. I cracked super fresh (key) Elmwood Stock Farm eggs one at a time into a small mesh strainer to let the loosey goosey  egg whites drain from the firmer whites, slid the eggs into individual ramekins, and carefully slipped the eggs into the rippling water. As they floundered about, I coaxed the egg whites to gently firm up around the eggs, covered the pot, and pulled it from the heat. When they hit the perfect poach (about 3 minutes, after a close check), I scooped them out with a slotted spoon and nestled them over the blanched asparagus before finishing with micro greens, flaked sea salt, lemon zest, and Stonehedge Farm shaved French breakfast radishes.

Poke the yolk.

When pierced, the yolks spilled from the jiggly eggs, enveloped the tender asparagus, and swirled through the vinaigrette, countering the warmth of the silky yolks with bright acidic punch. While the flaked salt added bite, the delicate shaved radishes provided assertive wet crunch.

Simple. Fresh. Perfect.

 

This article also appears on page 11 of the March 2018 printed edition of the Hamburg Journal.

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