Soul-searching is a funny thing. It is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying, exhausting and exhilarating: somehow managing to feel like flying and free-falling at the same time. It’s hard work. And yet, for as much energy as it must require to fuel a process with such fascinatingly contradictory results, I’ve not found that it builds up much of an appetite — at least not for food, anyway. An appetite for change; for knowledge; for new places, blue skies and greener pastures; yes. An appetite for lunch — not so much.
Lucky for you, I stopped soul-searching just long enough to come to a very important realization: something was missing in my life. Something very important, and (fittingly) green. Something I suspect you too may be missing, going about your life day in and day out without ever noticing its absence.
I mean vegetables, of course. But not just any old vegetables. I am talking about vegetables FOR BREAKFAST.
(I hope none of you is wondering right now whether vegetable cream-cheese counts.)
More likely, because you are my readers, you are probably thinking But I do have vegetables with breakfast, sometimes. But why only sometimes, usually during weekend brunch when a little pile of sauteed spinach nestles itself under your Eggs Florentine or some chopped peppers and mushrooms make a guest appearance in your omelette? What about a quick-and-easy seasonal breakfast salad?
Wha– Hey no, wait! Don’t go away — let me explain!! I don’t mean *just* salad for breakfast! Here, come back — look at the pretty pictures:
See, isn’t that nice and breakfast-y looking? I told you so.
I’ll bet you’re wondering what that is, exactly. What it is, exactly, is a lovely salad of organically-grown rocket arugula and asparagus from Sang Lee farms and a North Fork local “Good” egg fried sunny-side-up, topped with a healthy dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh-cracked black pepper. The greens are slightly wilted and served warm, lightly dressed with a little olive oil, lemon, garlic and flaked salt, and ultimately from the velvety yolk of your egg.
Mmmm hmm. Pretty yummy looking, isn’t it? Don’t you want to eat some of that right now?
Yep. Thought you might.
I’d love to share, really I would… but I’m afraid this particular dish is long gone, and my weekend schedule is booked solid with a whole lot of soul-searching (and reading and laundry), so I’m afraid it might be a while until I get around to making this for you.
More pressingly, asparagus season is almost over (if it isn’t already). Which is bad news in general, and for this salad in particular, as asparagus and eggs (especially when kicked up with some punchy arugula and black pepper) is a killer combination. Really, you should try it.
And so, my advice to you, my dear hungry friend, is to go out there and snap up whatever asparagus may still be lingering in the markets. If you can find it, then pick up some arugula and the freshest eggs you can find (ideally from pastured chickens, as they tend to have the most vibrant yolks, which as you can see play a key role in this dish) and you’re already halfway to sitting down to a delicious breakfast.
And not just any old breakfast: a breakfast salad, in all of its smug green glory.
Breakfast Salad with Asparagus and Rocket
For each plate you will need:
- 1 small clove of garlic
- 2 spears of asparagus
- 1 small handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 handfulls of rocket
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 egg (or 2)
- olive oil, coarse salt and fresh-cracked pepper
- three good pinches of finely-grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- sourdough, country boule or some other rustic light (not-very-dense) bread for toast
Prep: Wash the arugula and shake or spin dry. Place in a mixing bowl. Grate the cheese if you haven’t done so already. Halve the tomatoes if you want, otherwise leave them whole. Finally, chop the garlic finely and slice the asparagus thinly on an exaggerated diagonal, leaving the tips intact.
Now heat a healthy glug of olive oil in a sautee pan over medium-high heat. Toss in asparagus and tomatoes and cook, shaking pan or stirring periodically, about 2 minutes or until asparagus is bright green and tomatoes have wrinkly skins. Then toss in the garlic and sautee for another 40-60 seconds until fragrant and just barely beginning to take on the tiniest bit of color.
Immediately pour that over the arugula, including the oil in the pan. Toss gently to wilt the arugula, then add in a few squeezes of lemon juice, a pinch or two of coarse or flaked salt and another of grated cheese, and grind in a healthy amount of black pepper to finish dressing the greens. Toss again.
(Now might be a good time to put in a piece of toast.)
Put the pan back on the heat — between medium-high and high, as you want it hot enough to cook the whites of the egg quickly without cooking the yolk solid. Add in a drop of oil, crack the egg(s) in there and cover it with a lid (it can be smaller than the pan so long as it fits around the egg) to help the top of the egg steam a bit. Resist the urge to lift the lid for at least the first 60-90 seconds.
While that’s cooking, you may want to plate your salad. Things are going to get chaotic for a minute here.
Somewhere between one and a half and two minutes, check on the egg(s) to see if it/they are done. (For sunny-side up, which is what I recommend, you want a more-or-less opaque white, but a very loose yolk.) If it needs more time, put the cover back on and leave it there for another 45 seconds before checking again.
Once done, slide it over your salad and, after admiring your handiwork, pierce your yolk. The yolk will finish dressing the greens.
Sprinkle over another pinch or two of grated cheese and a little more fresh pepper, and you’re done.
Have at it.
(By the way, if you like the idea of a breakfast salad but don’t like mine, check out Cindy’s instead. Only just now did it occur to me to google “breakfast salad”, and based on the similarity of Cindy’s thought process and general attitude towards vegetables for breakfast, I’m thinking we should be friends.)