This time of year slays me; in New York City, the snow is pretty much finished, the ear muffs have been packed up and early daffodils and crocus blossoms are poking their way through the packed city soil. And yet, there is no food growing yet.
It's the season when my dreams are populated with ramps, fiddlehead ferns and asparagus. A few weeks ago I was visiting my family in Los Angeles and had plenty of springy food, including some of the most beautiful asparagus spears I'd ever seen. So in anticipation of my own northeastern asparagus season, I'm thinking about a dish I've made for years with barely cooked asparagus and boiled eggs.
Taking inspiration from a dish called Truffled Egg Toast at a since-shuttered neighborhood joint called 'Ino, I was making this side dish (which also works as an appetizer) with truffle salt for years, and then that flavor profile became completely overdone.
So now when the asparagus starts popping up, I go for something super simple: olive oil, Parmesan, salt and pepper. You can still garnish with truffle salt or truffle oil—no shame!—but watch for "truffled" products that have truffle flavor in them, rather than real truffles.
I call for hard-boiled eggs, but tend to under-do them for this dish, letting them sit in the boiled water for 8 or so minutes rather than the 10 minutes called for in our hard-boiled egg tutorial.
Asparagus with Eggs and Parmesan
Serves 6 a side dish or hors d'oeuvres
1 bunch asparagus (about 3/4 pound)
3 eggs, hard-boiled, sliced in half length-wise
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil or truffle oil
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or truffle salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Snap the woody ends of the asparagus off and discard. If the spears are much larger around than a pencil, carefully slice each spear in half length-wise.
Prepare an ice bath large enough to accommodate all the asparagus without too much crowding and set aside. Also have a few clean, absorbent kitchen towels set aside.
Fill a 10-inch or larger sauté-pan with salted water about 1-inch deep. Turn the heat to high. When it boils, carefully lower the asparagus into the water and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove the asparagus with tongs or a skimmer and set in the ice bath. When the asparagus is completely cool (give it a minute but don't leave so long they get water-logged) carefully set to dry on towels.
To assemble the dish, arrange asparagus spears on a platter with hard-boiled egg halves. Scatter the asparagus with the Parmesan, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and generous amount of pepper. Or, plate individually following the same approach.