Asparagus is known as a harbinger of spring, and the recent weeks have proved it, what with the spectacular weather we’ve enjoyed in Edinburgh. Sun blazing from clear blue skies, Princes Street Gardens dotted with sunbathers – yes, hard as is it may be to grasp, spring has come to Scotland.
This year we can enjoy British asparagus rather earlier than usual due to the mild winter (the season normally runs from April 23 to June 21, or so I’m told!). And at the Stockbridge Market this past Sunday I found pretty little bundles of green spears ‘fresh from the field’.
In my opinion the delicate flavour of asparagus should not be tampered with. They should be enjoyed simply – like here, cooked ever so lightly and accompanied by poached egg and rich salty prosciutto ham from Peelham Farm.
This is a breeze to cook, especially if you have one of those poaching aids – a little cup that you break the egg into and then lower into a pan of boiling water. I never could poach eggs the ‘proper way’ and to tell you the truth, the end result tastes the same to me whatever the method. Another advantage of using such a device is that you can poach the egg as the asparagus are cooking in the water, saving you time.
2 slices of sourdough bread
a bundle of asparagus, 4-7 spears
2 slices of proscuitto or other air-dried ham
1 free-range egg
1. Fill a saucepan with about 2 inches of water, add salt, put the lid on and let it come to a rolling boil.
2. Meanwhile, wash the asparagus and snap the woody end of each spear.
3. When the water is boiling, tip the asparagus into the pan and break the egg into the poaching device. Return the lid and cook for 3-5 minutes (the egg might take a little while longer to cook than the asparagus). Meanwhile, toast the bread.
4. Fish the asparagus out of the water and immediately rinse with cold water to stop them from further cooking. Arrange on a plate with toasted bread, strips of prosciutto ham and the poached egg. Season to taste.