American grown asparagus is available for a short season in spring with April the peak month. When I was living in San Francisco, asparagus from the California Delta would reach the market in spring announcing it was time to enjoy this vegetable in its season.
Most of the springtime asparagus that reaches Florida markets is pencil thin and in my opinion not worth messing with unless used in a quick stir fry. Thicker spears better suited for poaching, grilling and roasting. These are also more tender and flavorful.
Asparagus is grown in many countries around the globe and is available year round. Oddly, thicker asparagus show up in Florida markets during November. Who knows why? Perhaps these are coming from somewhere south of the equator where it is springtime. The thicker spears are worth looking for.
I prefer asparagus blanched in salted water and served chilled. It pairs with any combination Hollandaise, egg, Parmesan, potatoes and ham. In Europe, the arrival of white asparagus in April celebrates these combinations.
This is a simple dish consisting of green asparagus paired with poached egg, a few slices of prosciutto (domestic in this case) and a snowy covering of Parmigiano Reggiano. It is quick to prepare and makes a nice starter course or as in this case, a light weeknight meal.
Don’t fear the poached egg. Bring an egg to room temperature before cracking into a small dish or bowl. Bring a pan of water to a gentle boil and slide the egg into the water. Ignore the drama of egg whites spinning around the yolk and let it cook for about 5 minutes before lifting the egg with a slotted spoon to serve.
- 6 asparagus spears per serving woody ends snapped off
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 large fresh egg poached
- Prosciutto de Parma or any other quality ham
- Fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes to the desired degree of doneness. Stop the cooking process by plunging the asparagus in ice-cold water and set aside.
- Bring the egg to room temperature before cracking into a small dish or bowl. Fill a 6-quart saucepan 1/2 way with water and bring to a soft boil. Slide the egg in the boiling water and let cook for about 5 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon.
- While the egg is cooking pat the asparagus dry and arrange on serving plates with the ham as well.
- Place the cooked egg on the asparagus with salt and pepper as desired. Grate fresh Parmigiano Reggiano over the asparagus and egg to serve.