In spite of the fact that the sun has barely shown its face in the last couple weeks, growing season in Massachusetts has officially begun. I got some fresh asparagus and salad greens at the farmers' market on Saturday and decided to use them for this salad, which is a simplified version of a recipe from Around My French Table. I knew the salad would show off the quality of the vegetables, plus the recipe included bacon, which is always a bonus. This was my first time trying soft-boiled eggs, and I loved them - the set whites are perfect as a salad topper and the runny yolks become part of the dressing. We really enjoyed this salad, which we had as a light dinner last night - the combination of asparagus, bacon, and eggs is fantastic and perfect for spring.
Asparagus salad with bacon and eggs
Adapted from Around My French Table
I'm not going to give quantities for the ingredients - you can't go wrong here, so adjust the proportions to your liking. This is definitely a recipe you should play around with. Try different types of greens, cook the egg hard-boiled or fried or however you like it, use different nuts, add tomatoes, try a different vinaigrette...anything goes.
Strips of bacon, cooked and cut into 1-inch pieces*
Asparagus spears, trimmed (and peeled if they are very thick)
Chopped toasted walnuts or hazelnuts
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs sherry vinegar
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs walnut or hazelnut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add asparagus spears to the pot and cook for 4 minutes, or until asparagus can be easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove asparagus with tongs (do not drain water) and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Pat asparagus dry.
Bring water back to a boil. Using a ladle or spoon, carefully lower eggs into the water. Boil for exactly 6 minutes, then remove pot from heat. Lift eggs out into a strainer and run under cold water to cool them off. Empty the pot and refill with cold water. Place eggs in the cold water until needed.
Whisk together mustard, vinegar, and oils. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Carefully peel eggs. Toss greens and asparagus (separately) with vinaigrette. Arrange greens on plates and top with asparagus. Sprinkle with bacon and toasted nuts. Top with eggs.
*I like to cook bacon on a rack set on top of a pan in the oven at 350 deg F. This drains the fat effectively and helps the bacon strips to cook flat.