Recipe provided by Bill Granger
I love raw vegetables, so when asparagus are at their slim green best I just slice them wafer-thin and don't even bother to blanch - marinating in the lemony dressing is enough to soften them slightly. (Remember: wafer-thin though, or they could be woody.) This beautiful combination of flavours and textures makes a perfect light dinner.
200g asparagus, sliced into thin lengths
1 shallot, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 very fresh free-range eggs
Large handful rocket leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
25g parmesan cheese, shaved
Blanch the asparagus for 1 minute in boiling water and drain. Mix together the shallot, lemon juice and oil with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the asparagus and toss to coat. Set aside.
In a shallow frying pan, bring 5cm of water to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the eggs at once. To minimise the spreading of the whites, break the eggs directly into the water, carefully opening the two halves of the shells at the water surface so they slide into the water. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and leave them to cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes. The eggs are cooked when the whites are opaque. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a clean tea towel.
Toss the rocket into the asparagus and divide between four plates. Top each with a poached egg and any remaining dressing. Scatter with the chilli flakes and parmesan shavings and serve.
Photography by Mikkel Vang.
Bill's Italian Food by Bill Granger. HarperCollins Publishers.