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Asparagus Salad with Sieved Egg and Bread Crumbs

Yield: 6-10  Tapas servings or 4-6 as a salad course

  • 1 bunch (1 lb.) asparagus
  • Salt for the pot (one tablespoon)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup fresh sourdough bread crumbs  (make from stale bread in food processor)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced very small
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • dressing:
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar, preferably Spanish
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed but still in one piece
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • generous grinding of black pepper
  • 2-3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Snap off the tough bases of the asparagus, trim the ends to remove ragged edges. Wash well, soaking in water to remove any sand. When the water boils, add a tablespoon of salt, and then the asparagus, and cook for one minute after the water returns to the boil, or a bit longer if you like it softer. Remove to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, then immediately drain. If you are making several bunches of asparagus, don’t crowd the pot—it will take too long to return to boiling. Instead, blanch in a couple of batches.  Dry the asparagus on towels.  While you’re cooking the asparagus, cook the egg as well—add it to the pot with the last batch of asparagus, and then when you turn off the flame, let it sit in the pot for about 10 minutes. Remove, and let chill in cold water. It should be just hard-boiled. Peel and set aside.

Make the dressing: combine the vinegars and garlic, salt and pepper, and let stand for a few minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil—remove the garlic before serving; taste the dressing and add more oil if it’s too tart.

Make the crumbs: combine crumbs and minced garlic with the tablespoon olive oil in a small heavy frying pan. Stir over medium heat for just a few minutes, until crumbs are toasted; moderate the heat so they don’t burn. Set aside.

Arrange the asparagus on a platter. Drizzle with the dressing. Cut the egg in half, and rub it through a strainer over the asparagus, then very lightly salt and pepper the egg. Top with the crumbs and serve.

Cook’s Note: To amp up the recipe: Add some finely chopped, crisp pancetta to the topping, or some anchovy along with the garlic, or if you have it, grate some bottarga on top!