Grilled Asparagus with English Pea and Mint

Eat your vegetables! Like many others, I grew up in a house constantly hearing this phrase. Ok, I don’t actually know if everyone lived in a vegetable shilling house like mine, but I assume it’s true because, well, expressions have to be based on something.

So, let’s just say I’m right, ok? It’s easier that way.

Grilled Asparagus with English Pea and Mint

Where was I? Oh, yeah, vegetables and the eating of them. Well, I guess my Mother did her job well because I really do eat a lot of vegetables.

But, man cannot be sustained on vegetables alone. At some point in this one plate, two component dinner story a charred chunk of protein shows up bringing a satiating conclusion. More simply, meat makes me feel full.

But, when a perfectly crisp chicken isn’t immediately available and I’m about to hangry an entire bag of chips, an egg works juuuuust fine.

This is my go-to when I when I don’t want to make an effort to cook. Actually, it’s my favorite non-effort effort because it lends itself so well to whatever I have on hand and leftovers. It just might be the prettiest garbage plate you’ll ever eat. (Fact: The actual prettiest garbage plate is from Rochester, NY.)

In fact, I’m off to do it again with last night’s stewed beans with rosemary.

Grilled Asparagus with English Pea and Mint
Know this: The woody, tough ends of the asparagus need to be removed. To find out how much to trim gently bend one stalk like your trying to snap a stick. The woody part will snap off from the stalk leaving the tender part behind. Use this as a guide to quickly trim the rest using a kitchen knife.
Poached Eggs with Grilled Asparagus, English Pea, and Mint
By Evan Kalman
Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons or 1/4 stick) butter
  • 4oz (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil + 30 ml (2 tablespoons) more for the asparagus
  • 14 oz (about 3 cups) fresh English peas – shelled (look for packages of pre-shelled ones)
  • 1 garlic clove – minced
  • 1 small pinch of dried red chili flakes
  • 1 or 2 sprigs of fresh mint – leaves removed
  • 1 small bunch of asparagus – tough, woody ends trimmed
  • 1 radish – thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) white vinegar
  • Parmigiano reggiano
  • Salt and pepper

Step

Prepare the pea puree. In a medium saucepan, heat butter, 1/2 cup of oil, and chili flakes over medium heat until the butter is just melted. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in the peas and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the ingredients to a blender, add the mint, and puree until smooth. If the mixture is a little stiff, add a tablespoon or two of water to loosen it up. Season with salt and pepper. There will be more purée than needed, but you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for a few days.

Poach the eggs. In a medium pot, add enough water to come up 3 inches up the sides and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, use a pin to poke a hole in the bottom of the eggs. Add the eggs to the boiling water and cook for 10 seconds. Remove immediately and let cool.

Bring the water down to a simmer. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, crack each egg into a small ramekin. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, quickly stir the water in one direction to create a small whirlpool. Carefully drop the egg into the center of the whirlpool, turn of the heat, cover the pot, and let poach for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg and serve immediately. Alternatively, move the egg to an ice bath and refrigerate until ready to use. Reheat in warm water just before serving.

Grill the asparagus. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, brush the asparagus with oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the asparagus to the pan and grill until lightly charred on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Assemble the dish. On a large plate, scatter a few radish slices. Lay 5 or 6 asparagus spears in the center and spoon some of the pea puree over them. Top with a poached egg and a few shavings of cheese.

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