The mere presence of asparagus at the local farmer’s market transports me away from the dreary winter months, gently drifting to thoughts of spring. Asparagus are versatile, lending themselves to salads, frittate, luncheon and side dishes. Asparagus alla Milanese, although it originates in the Lombardy region of Italy is frequently served throughout the north of Italy.
The more traditional version is a combination of freshly picked asparagus, steamed or boiled, a fried egg or two, butter and Parmigiano; a complete meal wouldn’t you say? My interpretation of this classic dish uses olive oil and incorporates toasted breadcrumbs with a touch of fresh lemon zest.
Asparagi alla Milanese can be prepares in a flash and once served, go ahead – break the golden yolk and allow it to dribble down the sides of the asparagus to create a rich, flavorful sauce.
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- 1 pound of fresh asparagus
- 2 large farm fresh eggs
- ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 slices of Italian style hard crusted bread
- 4 Tbs olive oil
- Grated peel of ½ large lemon
- ¼ cup of Italian parsley leaves, chopped
- Shaved Parmigiano to taste
- Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive to drizzle
- Wash the fresh asparagus and snap off the tough end. Asparagus will naturally break at the junction of the tough and tender portion. With springtime asparagus generally about 2 inches are removed. If you feel uncertain about the snapping process, simply trim using a chef's knife.
- Place the asparagus in a flat pan or on a microwave plate and cover with fresh salted water. Either using a microwave or stove top, bring the asparagus to a simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. This will vary depending upon the thickness of your asparagus. Have a bowl prepared with an ice bath and using tongs, remove the blanched asparagus to the ice bath quickly to stop the cooking and retain the bright green color. Once cool, remove the asparagus to a clean cotton towel to drain off all residual water.
- Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sized skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the breadcrumbs and two slices of Italian bread to lightly toast. Stir after about 1 minute to allow time for toasting, turn over the bread slices. Remove the breadcrumbs to a bowl, season with salt & freshly ground black pepper, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley. Set the breadcrumb mixture and toasted bread slices aside.
- Arrange the blanched asparagus spears on either two individual plates or one plate - depending upon how you are presenting the dish. Sprinkle half of the breadcrumb mixture over the asparagus.
- Gently heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet large enough to accommodate two fried eggs. Once the oil is hot, break the eggs into the skillet, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until the white is set, but the yellow is sill runny. Immediately top the asparagus with the fried eggs; one on each plate if you are making two distinct portions.
- Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumb mixture over the fried eggs, shave some Parmigiano over the dish and garnish with the chopped parsley. Drizzle with just a bit of extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.