The change of seasons from winter to spring also brings about a change in eating habits. I've spent the first six weeks of my time in Italy making hearty soups like minestrone and chicken with farro to help warm me against the cold weather. But now it is spring, and time for something different. Today my kitchen inspiration came from beautiful bright green bundles of asparagi (asparagus) in the local market. An Italian spring and asparagus go hand in hand and these are the first of the season.
This meal could not be simpler. After washing and trimming the asparagus, I drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled on some coarse salt. Then they roasted at 200 degrees Celsius (400 Fahrenheit) for 12 to 15 minutes (these were fairly thick stalks, adjust cooking time for thinner stalks). The asparagus will become the base of this simple Italian dish.
While the asparagus were roasting I prepared a side dish of sliced tomatoes (from Sicily, where it's even warmer at this time of year) with fresh mozzarella. I added a drizzle of a local olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar from Modena. A little salt and pepper was all that was needed to finish this side dish.
Next, I brought a pan of water to a simmer to poach an egg. Four minutes was just perfect to set the white of the egg and leave a runny yolk. Removing the egg from the water, a quick blot on a paper towel absorbed any excess water. After gently placing the poached egg on top of five or six asparagus spears, I dusted them with salt and pepper, and some shavings of Parmesan. That's it! The dish works equally well for brunch, lunch, or dinner. It never hurts to add some focaccia or bread (though it is blissfully carb-free without any).
Roasted asparagus with egg and Parmesan - tastes like spring to me! -post by JMB