Do you remember last June, when I was making Pistachio and Goat Cheese Wrapped Grapes and I told you Kim, from Rustic Garden Bistro, came for lunch and brought me fresh many-hued eggs from her very own chickens? Well, I wanted to make something really special with them and I think this Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Salad with Romesco Sauce is a very worthy dish to showcase those beautiful eggs.
I love all the components of this salad: the smoky crunch of asparagus, salty prosciutto with the great mouth feel of that little strip of fat, crisp fresh frisée and the runny rich yolk of the egg, all drizzled with a lemon juice vinaigrette. On top of all that is the Romesco Sauce, which is a thick mixture of ancho chiles, tomato, roasted red pepper, almonds, toasted bread, garlic, paprika, vinegar and olive oil. This makes you close your eyes as you savor each bite and feel replete with satisfaction at the end. *Sigh*
These are the beautiful eggs that Kim gave to me. I have never had eggs where I knew which chickens laid those eggs. My experience is with farm factory white eggs from the grocery store, which have served me well for 60 years. But knowing exactly which chicken created an egg is something really amazing to me. I guess I never thought about where eggs came from… well, they came from the market in those gray cardboard cartons, right?
Romesco Sauce is from Tarragona, Catalonia in Northeastern Spain where it is served with seafood and grilled vegetables. The Romesco Sauce in this recipe makes more than you will use, but it is delicious on meat, chicken, fish or stirred into fish stews. You can toss it with pasta, couscous, faro or rice, or use as a sandwich spread or dip for crudities. I just spread it on a slice of toasted sourdough bread and it was fanastic!
Poached Egg, Prosciutto, Roasted Asparagus & Frisée with Romesco Sauce
Inspired by an eRecipe from Fine Cooking March 2012
Romesco Sauce Base
1 medium ancho chile, stem and seeds removed
½ cup peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
One ½-inch thick slice white country-style bread, cut into 3 pieces
1 medium red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded
½ cup raw almonds or hazelnuts, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon sweet paprika; more as needed
½ teaspoon hot Pimenton dulce or cayenne; more as needed
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1. Put ancho chile in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak about 10 minutes, drain and set aside.
2. Warm a small sauté pan over medium heat and add ¼ cup olive oil. When oil is hot enough, bread will sizzle on contact. Add bread and reduce heat to medium low Fry bread on both sides until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel.
3. Put diced tomatoes in a small baking dish, drizzle with a little oil and place under broiler until slightly charred, about 3 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
4. In work bowl of food processor, put ancho chile, tomatoes, fried bread, red pepper, nuts and garlic. Grind to a chunky paste, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.
5. Add sweet and hot paprika, both vinegars and ¼ cup olive oil from sauté pan. Season with salt. Process again and taste. Should be sweet, nutty and bright with acidity. Place in storage container and allow to sit for 20 minutes for flavors to blend.
Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify. Season to taste. Set aside.
For the Salad
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ½ teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
24 medium to large asparagus spears
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 handfuls frisée (pale and light green center leaves), washed and dried
4 large eggs
4 to 8 thin slices Prosciutto or Serrano ham, for serving
1. Put ½ cup Romesco Sauce Base, ¼ cup olive oil and 1½ teaspoons white balsamic vinegar in a mini processor. Process until smooth and spoonable. Place in a small bowl and add additional salt, vinegar or spice to taste. Set aside.
Note: Remaining Romesco Sauce Base can be refrigerated for one week and used for other purposes. Or freeze in ½ cup amounts in plastic zip bags for future Romesco Sauce.
2. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Trim ends of asparagus to fit on serving plates. If stems are tough, peel with vegetable peeler.
3. Place asparagus on foil covered baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread in a single layer and salt lightly. Roast until just tender but still slightly crisp, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size of spears. Set aside at room temperature.
4. Fill a straight sided heavy sauté pan with about 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar. Crack eggs into a small bowl and slide into the water. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes until done to your taste. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
5. Arrange asparagus spears on four plates and drape Prosciutto next to them. Place a nest of frisée over end of asparagus and place an egg on top. Drizzle lemon vinaigrette over Frissée, asparagus and Prosciutto.
6. Stir the Romesco Sauce vigorously and place dollops over and around salad. Pass extra sauce at table. Dust salad with ground black pepper. Stand back and admire your work. Beautiful!