Yes, I’m still on my asparagus game. But instead of a classy and speedy sea bass dinner, this time I’m bringing you a similarly speedy healthy and seasonal brunch. The inspiration for this one was my now ex-housemate Tamara, who made this shortly before we moved out and gave me such food envy that I went right out and made it myself. I’ve had it a few times since then (always a good sign!) and tried both grilling and boiling my asparagus. Both is nice, but grilled has a brunchier feel to it so I’ve gone with that here. As with the pan-fried sea bass, I’ve chosen amounts of asparagus and spinach so that this gives you two of your five-a-day. There’s enough for 2 servings here.
So let’s talk poached eggs. How do you make yours?
I was recently staying back at my parents house for a wedding with friends and the topic came up. There were three camps, and we decided to have a poached-eggathon to put each method to the test. We actually had these with avacado on toast, but I won’t post the recipe for that as you can find thousands of those on instagram! Some poached egg general tips before we compare:
- The water needs to be between boiling and simmering, you don’t want any bubbles.
- Cook for around 3 minutes for a soft boiled and 4 minutes for a firmer egg. You’ll notice mine are slightly firmer and that’s because my Dutch upbringing means still fairly I’m wedded to my hard boiled eggs.
- For 2 & 3, use a slotted spoon to remove and drain, then place on kitchen roll to dry.
So, I’m biased towards my own camp, but please take your pick!
1. The DIY Poached-Egg Pocket
This approach is favoured by my friend Holly, who got it from her copy of Jamie’s Everyday Superfood. Essentially, you cut a square of cling film (30cm is the recommended amount), crack an egg on top, pull in the sides and carefully try to squeeze the air out. Then tie a knot at the top and pop them in the near-boiling water.
The Verdict: Particularly effective for batch cooking as you can fit loads in a pan without ruining the shape. However, the wrinkly shape doesn’t quite do it for me aesthetically and somehow the texture feels different!
2. The Freestyle
The no-frills approach taken by my dad. Essentially, get the water to just below boiling and carefully pop your egg in. No real maintenance, just make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Leave the fancy poached eggs to the hipsters and have your egg the good, old fashioned way.
The Verdict: Pleasantly rustic, good taste and flavour. The Freestyle can end up a bit jelly-fish like, and the tentacles don’t always seem as tasty. To me anyway!
3. The Fortnightly Recipe Way
I can’t take full credit for this approach, which was pieced together by me and my boyfriend over time, research, trial and error. The aim here is to create a beautifully round poached egg. Add a splash of vinegar to the near boiling water (white wine is the least intrusive flavour and the less staining on your egg, but I’ve tried red wine and sherry vinegar too which work just fine). Create a little whirlpool in your pan using your slotted spoon and gently crack your egg in the middle. Then use the spoon to gently move away the egg from the bottom and around the sides so that the egg white wraps around the yolk.
The Verdict: Juuuuuuuust right 😉
- white wine vinegar (for option 3 only, but you can substitute for other vinegar)
- 4 eggs
- olive oil
- 10 asparagus stalks, ends trimmed
- 160g spinach
- 2 bread rolls, cut in half, buttered and toasted
- Salt & pepper
- Chilli flakes
How to make it…
- Preheat the grill to a high heat. Then start making your eggs in a saucepan on a medium heat that’s between simmering and boiling, choosing Camp 1, 2 or 3 above.
- Lightly cover the asparagus stalks in olive oil and grill for around 2 minutes on each side.
- Meanwhile, blanch the spinach with a little water for 3 minutes and drain.
- Construct your buns by adding the spinach, then the asparagus stalks and the poached eggs. Season to taste with salt, pepper and chilli flakes.