My sincerest hope is that because it's just barely spring -- since the trees are not fully green and we’ve only just commenced ramp watch 2014 -- you have not yet tired of asparagus and eggs. Because if I had gotten to you much later, after the storm of egg poaching and hollandaise and brunchy spring vegetable frittatas, you might have missed out on Deborah Madison’s Roasted Asparagus with Chopped Egg and Torn Bread.
This recipe is about speed and efficiency. It is about thrift. It gives you everything you could ever want from a dish of spring’s darling vegetable, with none of the hardship of fancy sauces or slow-poaching. Which is fortuitous, because you’ve waited so long for spring to happen that you no longer have time for any of the fanfare. You want spring food, and you want it now.
Add this to your regular rotation and you’ll soon remember why we do this familiar asparagus-and-egg dance every year. Just like we wrap ourselves around creamy pastas on cold nights and fill ourselves full of pancakes on Sundays, we revisit these two every spring because they’re safe, trustworthy. Asparagus and eggs have never done us any wrong. They’ve never left us prematurely, just when things got good. (We leave that to flashy ramps and free-spirited fiddleheads.)
And so you should honor them: with an upright, sharp vinaigrette; with a cool, creamy egg; with a big platter and a hungry mouth.
Halved, or not halved, this recipe makes for the kind of meal best eaten alone, with a tall pour of burly white wine. It’s a dish made for eating freely, for dangling spears into your mouth two at a time and dragging your finger across the plate for the last of the vinaigrette-logged breadcrumbs.
But first you will swiftly cook: You will roast your asparagus and whisk to life a quick vinaigrette. You will hard-cook an egg. And instead of letting prissy breadcrumb-making get the better of you on a harried weeknight, you will rip a piece of crisped bread with your own two hands over the whole dish, animal style. Toasty bread will spit and fly like fireworks, somehow yielding the perfect ratio of croutons to shards.
It’s best slightly warm, but no one -- not even Madison -- forbids against eating it cold the next day, or from constructing it out of leftovers to begin with. If you’ve got a hard-cooked egg in your fridge and a heel of sourdough in your breadbox, this dish will reward you for it. Got a viniagrette already made? Good for you. You wanted spring food -- this is how to have it now.
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the asparagus
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 thick slice sourdough or ciabatta
1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
Photos by Eric Moran