I like to serve asparagus at breakfast or brunch alongside poached eggs on toast, and I particularly like how well it pairs with tarragon and butter, and even hollandaise sauce. This is a great brunch dish that could be extended into a substantial lunch with the addition of a handful of spring salad leaves.
20 asparagus spears
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 small golden shallots, thinly sliced
Tarragon mustard dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp picked and chopped tarragon leaves
1. To cook the eggs, bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer. When boiling, gently lower the eggs one at a time. Set a timer and simmer for exactly 6 minutes, then refresh in cold water. When cool, peel and leave at room temperature until you wish to serve the salad.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Roast the hazelnuts 3 to 5 minutes, until the skin has started to blister. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, rub the nuts with a slightly damp cloth to remove the skin. Any stubborn pieces of skin can be removed by scraping away with a small paring knife. Chop the hazelnuts to a coarse meal and set aside.
3. To prepare the dressing, take a large bowl big enough to toss the asparagus. With a spoon, mix together 3 tablespoons olive oil, mustard, cream, lemon juice and chopped tarragon leaves. Set aside.
4. To cook the asparagus, trim any tough woody parts from the base of each spear. Preheat a charcoal grill, barbecue or stovetop griddle pan, ensuring it's super-hot. Toss the asparagus in one tablespoon olive oil and grill the spears until the skin begins to blister. This should only take one or two minutes on a really hot grill.
5. Transfer the cooked asparagus to a chopping board, halve the spears and toss in the tarragon mustard dressing along with the sliced shallots. Taste a spear of asparagus to see if it needs a pinch of salt. Divide the asparagus salad among four plates. Peel the soft-boiled eggs, halve and place two halves on each salad. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on and around the salad.
If you like this recipe, try Andrew's steak and asparagus with anchovy sauce.