griddled asparagus with soft-poached eggs

Lindsey Bareham

I love British asparagus, particularly with soft-boiled or poached eggs. My favourite way of cooking it this week is on the griddle, lightly scorching the tender spears. This might sound like heresy to boilers and poachers, but griddling makes the spears very juicy while adding a delicious nuttiness. A couple of soft-poached eggs with curls of salty hard cheese, finished with a swirl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, makes a simple, no-fuss feast for two.

serves 2, prep 10 min, cook 15 min

10 (or more) spears English asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
4 eggs
1 tbsp wine vinegar
1 tbsp Belazu or other syrupy balsamic vinegar
3-4 tbsp best olive oil
2 tbsp vegetarian Parmesan curls

Place a griddle over a medium-high flame and leave for a few minutes to get very hot. Snap the ends off the asparagus – the spears will break naturally at the right place, about 3cm from the end. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil on to a plate and roll the spears through the oil. Lay out on the griddle, probably cooking in 2 batches, turning with tongs as they sear and fidget, allowing about 3 min in total.

Simultaneously, half-fill a sauté or wide-based pan with water from the kettle and bring back to the boil with the vinegar. Crack one egg at a time into a cup and slip, one egg after the other, into the simmering water. Cook for 1-2 min until the white has set but the yolk remains soft. Use a perforated spoon to scoop each egg onto a fold of kitchen paper then on to the plated asparagus. Decorate with a swirl of balsamic and another of best olive oil then add Parmesan curls.