I have been perusing my new Dorie Greenspan cookbook around my french table (no capitol letters in her title) and I came across this salad recipe that reminded me of a similar salad that I enjoyed in France a couple of years ago. The salad arrived on a large plate layered with a fresh spring lettuce greens, drizzled with a vinaigrette, and adorning my lettuce was three perfectly cooked sunny-side up eggs, with a side of fried potatoes. This was simply the best entree salad that I had ever enjoyed. You can check out my Dinner in Paris post that highlighted this salad at tomatoesonthevine-velva.blogspot.com/2009/08/dinner-in-paris.html
As soon as I saw this salad recipe, same concept, with a different twist, there was no hesitation, this salad was being prepared for dinner. There is only one way to make this salad, and that is with fresh ingredients. If you have access to fresh eggs, even better.
I am inexperienced with preparing soft boiled eggs, and reading instructions such as “saying a little don’t-let-my-egg break prayer” or “Allow the eggs to boil for exactly 6 minutes” or my favorite “very, very carefully shell the eggs. It’s a fussy job.” stresses me. Nevertheless, after I gently peeled those shells and saw the golden glory, I appreciated the stress.
The recipe instructions appear complicated but, really it isn’t. It’s just Dorie’s way of assuming you know nothing, and trying to give you too much information with her charming up close and personal style.
Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus SaladMakes 4 servingsRecipe from around my french table
For the Vinaigrette
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil or walnut oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Put all the ingredients in a small jar, cover, and shake to blend; or use a small bowl and a whisk. If you’ve used the mustard, the dressing will be fairly well blended; if not, it will blend, then separate-either way, it’s fine. Set aside, and shake (or whisk) again before using. (You can make the vinaigrette up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge.)
For the Salad:
4 cold extremely fresh large eggs
20 asparagus spears, preferably thick, trimmed and peeled
6 strips bacon
3 handfuls mesclun or other mixed salad greens, rinsed and dried
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts or walnuts
Bring a medium saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil. One by one, put the cold eggs on a spoon and slowly and gently lower them into the water (saying a little don’t-let-my-egg-break prayer on the way down). Allow the eggs to boil for exactly 6 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Lift the eggs into a strainer, and run them under cold water to cool them quickly. Fill the pan with cold water and leave the eggs in the water until needed.
Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil. Slip the asparagus into the pan and cook for 4 minutes, or until you can pierce the spears with the tip of a paring knife. The asparagus should be cooked through but not at all mushy. Carefully transfer the spears to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels and pat them dry.
Pour out the salted water, rinse the skillet to cool it, dry it, and lay the strips of bacon in the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, turning as needed, until the bacon is golden and crisp on both sides. remove the strips and put them between a double thickness of paper towels; when the bacon is cool, cut into narrow strips or chop it into bits. Leave 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet-you will use it for the eggs.
When you are ready to serve, very, very, carefully shell the eggs. It’s a fussy job, because the eggs are so soft, and you might not get the shells off cleanly, but unless you break into the yolks, it will be fine. Rinse the eggs to remove any bits of shell and pat them dry. Warm the bacon fat over medium heat.
While the bacon fat is heating, assemble the salad. You can put it together on a platter or arrange it on individual plates. Either way, season the mesclun with salt and pepper, then toss it with about three-quarters of the vinaigrette, and arrange in the center of the platter or your plates. Toss the asparagus with the remaining vinaigrette ( I do this with my fingers) and lay the spears over the greens.
Now return to the skillet. When the fat is warm, gingerly slip the eggs into the skillet and roll them around in the fat for a minute or two, just to coat them with fat, heat them slightly, and color them a little.
Lift the eggs out of the skillet and place them on top of the asparagus. Scatter the bacon and toasted nuts over the salad and serve immediately.