An Italian culinary tradition during Spring is serving poached eggs with asparagus. It's great during summer's hot weather, too. Often presented simply, the poached egg tops toasted bread with steamed asparagus underneath or on the side. Since Spring and Summer offer such a wonderful selection of fresh vegetables, why not include tender peas and fava beans and make a flavorful broth? Accompanied with toasted focaccia or ciabatta bread and a glass of chilled Prosecco or white wine, serve Poached Eggs and Asparagus with Fava Beans and Peas for an Italian-style brunch or main dish.
4 servings. Cooking time is about 15 minutes.
8 asparagus spears, cut into short diagonal pieces (yields 1 cup or 235 ml volume)
1/2 cup green peas, shelled (3 ounces or 85 g shelled; or 12 ounces or 340 g pods; about 24 pods)
1/2 cup fava or broad beans, shucked (8 ounces or 230 g pods; about 18 medium-size pods)
Extra-virgin olive oil for sauteing
1/4 cup (1 ounce or 28 g) finely chopped prosciutto crudo or ham
1 cup (8 ounces or 235 ml) vegetable or chicken broth
Poaching the Eggs:
1 tablespoon (15 ml) distilled white vinegar to taste
4 large eggs
Seasoning the Eggs:
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
1. Preparing the Vegetables: It is important to retain the character of some vegetables and legumes by partially cooking them ahead of time. Cook them only to eliminate rawness; do not cook until soft because they will cook together in the broth. If added to the pan when raw, they require more cooking time, mingling and losing their lovely distinctive flavors.
* Asparagus: Diagonally cut into short lengths. Blanch in boiling salted water or steam for several seconds. Drain and plunge into cold water or run cold water over to stop the cooking and maintain bright green color. Drain.
* Fava or Broad Beans: Remove from the pods. Blanch in boiling unsalted water for 1 minute. Drain then peel.
* Green Peas: Blanch in boiling salted water for several seconds. Drain and plunge into cold water or run cold water over to stop the cooking and maintain bright green color, drain. Or add raw because peas require brief cooking time.
2. Heat a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan over low heat. Saute the prosciutto crudo or ham for a minute until fragrant, then add the asparagus, peas, and fava beans. Increase the heat to high, pour in the broth and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste. Turn off the heat and set aside until the eggs are ready to be served.
3. Poaching the Eggs: Meanwhile in a non-stick pan, heat lightly salted water to a simmer. Pour in a few drops of vinegar to help set the raw eggs. Break each egg into a cup. Holding the cup close to the simmering water, tilt the cup so the egg slides into the simmering water. Repeat with all eggs. Poach for as long as preferred, usually 2 minutes is enough to set yet have a runny yolk center.
4. Serving: Ladle the vegetable mix into broad soup bowls. Using a slotted spoon, gently lift each egg out of the water allowing water to drain off, then place in the center of the vegetables. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil, season with salt and black pepper. Garnish with thin slices of toasted focaccia or ciabatta bread. Serve immediately.