Whenever I visit a new restaurant, I come home with a bagful of new ideas for recipes I could try at home - so it would be fair to say that eating out for me is more an investment than an expenditure...
One of my favourite restaurant s in London is Salt Yard. The present dish is inspired, well, blatantly copied, in all honesty, from there. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any wild asparagus, which is even thinner than the variety I found at the Borough Market when I went on a shopping spree with Jeanne recently, and I couldn't char-grill them either... but that's a sacrifice you have to make when you don't own a million-pound kitchen I guess.
Eating this dish (tapas-sized) at Salt Yard recently was another proof of how you can be completely bowled over by the simplest combinations - if only every single one of the ingredients is an absolute stunner. Wild asparagus tastes so much better than the supermarket varieties, grilling adds such a subtle, smokey flavour and when you use top-quality truffle oil and mature pecorino, well, nothing much can go wrong. Given that you can prepare this in a flash, it's a perfect weekday dinner... 10 minutes is all it takes and I much prefer it to the coldmeats, cheeses and salad we've found ourselves faced with far too often lately...
Asparagus with poached egg, pecorino and truffle oil
(serves 2 for a light meal or a starter)
400 g thin, green asparagus (wild, if you're lucky enough)
white wine vinegar
100 g top-quality pecorino (or good parmesan)
cracked black pepper
truffle oil (for drizzling)
Blanch the asparagus in plenty of salted water for 3-5 minutes, longer if you are using a thicker variety. Refresh in ice-cold water. (Alternatively, you can char-grill the asparagus, which will give it a much richer, smokey flavour).
Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a shallow pot, add a splash of white wine vinegar. Place two dressing rings in the pot and break in the eggs, this will help keep their shape. Cook for no more than 3 minutes, then refresh carefully. (I tend to pour out the hot water, then quickly fill up the pot with icecold water before removing the rings, couting to 10 and lifting the eggs out with a slotted spoon).
Divide the asparagus between plates, gently sit the eggs on top, then sprinkle with the freshly grated pecorino and some cracked black pepper, drizzling generously with truffle oil for a luxurious finish.
Serve with crusty bread.