This recipe is a true classic of Northern Italy. It is probably the most iconic recipe made with asparagus. You will be surprised by its simplicity and balanced flavors: the sweet asparagus are enhanced by the savory Parmigiano and nutty, mellow eggs.
In Italy, this dish is typically served in spring, when asparagus and eggs are at their peak. Since this recipe uses eggs (protein), we consider it a main course and serve two eggs per person instead of just one – but of course I know you immediately think of breakfast or brunch (Italians do not eat eggs at breakfast). 😛
As always, I would suggest you to choose pasture-raised eggs, a healthier choice for you and the environment.
Prep and Total Time: 20 to 30 minutes depending on the cooking method chosen
Serves 4 (as a generous appetizer)
|Wash the asparagus and remove the last 2 inches of the stem.|
|Tie them with twine.|
|Place them standing in a tall and narrow saucepan, submerging the stems but leaving the tender tips outside of the water. It’s OK if the tips of the asparagus peer out of the saucepan.|
|Cover the saucepan with aluminum foil, closing at the bottom to trap the steam that will cook the tips.|
|Bring to a boil and cook for just 5 minutes if you like your asparagus the American way – kind of snappy. Otherwise, add another 5 minutes for soft, well-done asparagus, the Italian way.Drain the asparagus.|
|Meanwhile, turn the heat to the lowest setting under your sauté pan. Evenly coat the bottom of the pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Melt another 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Transfer the asparagus to the skillet, placing them in one layer if possible.|
|Sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and melted butter, and cover. Continue to cook for just a minute.|
|Next you have a choice: you can either cook the eggs in the pan with the asparagus for a more rustic look, but a fantastic taste. Or you can cook the eggs separately and then add them to the asparagus at the end.For the first option, add the remaining two tablespoons of butter on top of the asparagus and then crack the eggs over the top.|
|Cover and cook until the eggs are at your desired doneness (usually about 4-5 minutes). Season to taste and serve.|
|For the second option, turn off the heat, leaving the asparagus undisturbed for another couple of minutes to allow the cheese to completely melt.In a separate skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and cook the eggs over easy. Season to taste.|
|Transfer the asparagus to the plates and top each serving with one or two eggs.Note: If you prefer poached eggs, they would work too, although in Italy, we traditionally serve them over easy in this dish.|