A Project, of the Sweetest Kind.

My word! Everything is so crazy right now. Work has hit some random fever pitch, my chores have stacked up and are looming, I haven't had any time to make my weekly batches of pimiento cheese or deviled ham salad for Lindy & Grundy, Fred and I are going on a vacation tomorrow, which means my packing agita began days ago, and, oh my GAWD - I had to remove a large tick from a dog (ticks are one of THE scariest things in the whole world to me). 

Mercifully, there is always light and growth. Right now those very elements are springing forth in the literal sense: the sun is bright and strong, and all things produce are exploding in my garden and at the market. The bounty of all of the new, and unusual produce, has helped to quell the lack of carbs allowed in my world. Because when things feel this funky, I really just want a big bowl of pasta served with a massive chunk of bread on the side. In their stead I have eaten many 'creative' salads, and an inordinate amount of cheese and almonds. The cheese and almonds are the closest snacky thing I have found to satisfy my salty, crunchy cravings (read potato chip desperation).

When in need of soothing I go grocery shopping; it is my therapy – it grounds me. Whenever I stumble across a brand new food anything, I buy it. And I rarely have a clue what I will do with my new Precious, even by the time I'm back in my kitchen. So last week, while aimlessly navigating each aisle of Whole Foods, mostly just to pick up some healthy lunch snack while out running around, I was suddenly face to spear with bright purple asparagus. And this, my friends, I had never seen before.

Thus, a project was born. Of the sweetest kind.

I raced home, put on my cozies, poured a glass of Moscato (needless to say, wine has been ushered back into diet headquarters) and sat down to poke through my brand new copy of Vegetable Literacy for an idea. I wanted something simple. I wanted something clean. I wanted something light and bright and fresh. And I wanted to incorporate the sixty-two degree egg that I have been besotted with of late. I read that purple asparagus (asparaguses? asparagi?) have less fiber and more sugar than other varieties. So I knew I wanted to bring an acid onto the palate with this dish. And things just all came together. As things tend to do. Or not.

This is a fun and versatile dish. You could serve this with brunch, lunch or dinner. It – at least the asparagus – could be served cool, with warm egg, to play on temperatures, or have the whole thing warm, depending on your whimsy. This arrangement creates a wonderful journey for the eyes, with the bright colors and textures. The aggressive spears of asparagus topped with the soft, sensual, gooey ephemeral egg. The little drizzle of the vinaigrette add that tiny pop of pink. That and the smattering of the bright green bits of basil keep your eyes busy for longer than you'd expect.

And they do say, 'you first eat with your eyes', no?

Here, in the apex of Spring, I highly encourage everyone to plant something right now. Whether you are able to cultivate a garden in the ground, in containers, or you have a few little plants of basil, thyme or oregano on your kitchen windowsill – or how about Sea Monkeys? Remember them? Watch it (or them) grow and use it to enhance your day, your spirit and your food.

Roasted Purple Asparagus, Red Wine Vinaigrette, 62 Degree Egg
(Recipe inspired by Deborah Madison, Vegetable Literacy)

Serves 2

1 pound asparagus
3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse prepared mustard
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 eggs 62 degree or soft poached
A few basil leaves, chiffonade

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If the asparagus spears are thick, peel the stalks and cut off the tough stem ends. If thin, snap off the bottom where it breaks easily and trim the ends.

Toss the spears with 1 teaspoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and lay them in a single layer in a baking dish or sheet pan. Roast the spears, turning them once every so often, until tender and colored in places, 20 to 30 minutes.

Make the vinaigrette. Combine mustard, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then whisk in the oil. 

Serve on two plates and top with eggs. Spoon the vinaigrette over all and finish with freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with basil leaves.

One year ago: The Pikey
Two years ago: Meyer Lemon Relish
Three years ago: Let's Talk About Text, Baby


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