I don’t know about you, but I am very much in a spring mode. Here in sunny California spring sort of started back in February, and now is in full glory. My car is yellow with pollen, farmers’ markets are in overflow with gorgeous spring offerings, and the fragrance in the air is incredibly sweet. Stepping outside the house smells like someone is taking an outdoor shower with the best smelling shower gel ever. I discovered it’s the orange blossom from the neighbor’s tree. Aaatchuu! Yep, plenty of sneezes, too!
When it rains, blessedly like the other night, in my head I keep singing Drip, drip, drip, little April shower… Hopefully you know which movie that song comes from. Hint: it’s a Disney one, from when the man was still alive.
I am also very much in lemon mode, particularly divine Meyer lemons like these above, so watch out, because more lemon recipes are dancing around in my head.
Asparagus Mimosa is a family tradition, at least it is in my family, and they have been featured on many spring and summer buffets at parties. Asparagus and eggs are a classic combination in Italy, often with the eggs prepared sunny side up so you can dip the asparagus tip in the yolk. I am not a runny-egg kind of girl, so I enjoy this version much more.
This is not even a recipe, not technically, as doses can be flexible. It is called Mimosa because the chopped egg is reminiscent of the yellow blossom of the fragrant mimosa tree, which here in California is called yellow acacia. I have added radishes because… well, they were just so pretty in all those colors.
Have you ever had cooked radishes? They taste like turnips without the bitter edge. Delicious!
The first time I cooked radishes I was still at my restaurant. I was planning the new spring menu and wanted to insert an asparagus salad that would also have new potatoes and baby beets. One week, I could not find any baby beets, in any color, not even from our froufrou food supplier. I found some beautiful radishes instead, so I cooked those up and they worked, both in taste and color.
Even though I had not planned it, when I saw these at the market a few days ago, I was reminded of that and I just had to get some. They are called Easter radishes apparently, and come in really pretty colors. They are not essential to the recipe, but add a beautiful touch of color.
I will list the ingredients and explain the procedure. The amounts are really up to you, depending on how many people and whether you are planning it as a small bite or a main meal. You can’t go wrong.
– fresh, organic asparagus (I used two bundles)
– fresh eggs (I used 7)
– finely chopped parsley
– freshly squeezed lemon juice
– extra-virgin olive oil
– sea salt
– freshly cracked black pepper
– pretty radishes (if you like)
1. Place the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and a splash of vinegar. Place on the stove and bring to a simmer, then cook for about 7-8 minutes or as desired. Remove from heat, drain out the hot water and, if you can handle them, crack the shells lightly before running cold water into the saucepan. This will help peel them faster. Let them cool in the cold water for a few minutes then remove and peel. Chop the eggs into small bits, season with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice and stir. Add the finely chopped parsley (I added a couple of handfuls) and stir. Adjust as needed, then set aside. Eggs can be boiled and peeled even a day ahead.
2. Trim off the greens from the radishes and a little bit of the long root. Rinse them well, then slice them in half. Heat a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a sauté pan and add the radishes. Season with salt and pepper and cook covered on gentle heat for about 8-19 minutes, stirring occasionally. After a couple of minutes, add a little water to help with the cooking. Test with a knife for doneness. You want the radishes cooked, but not soggy. Most juices will have evaporated once they are done. Remember that, even once cooked, if you keep them covered in the same pan, the heat will continue cooking them a little longer. Therefore, even if the radishes are still al dente, just turn off the heat and leave them there covered until ready to use. This applies to all vegetables.
3. Rinse the asparagus, trim off the woodier ends while also matching the asparagus in length. It is not necessary, but this time I chose to lightly peel the ends with a potato peeler. I had seen it done and liked the tender green color once cooked.
Prepare an ice bath; that is, a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Bring a pot with salted water (just like for cooking pasta) to a simmer, gently add the asparagus – in batches if you must – and cook for 2-3 minutes, till tender but still al dente. Using a spider strainer or slotted spoon, remove them from the simmering water and place them in the iced water bath to stop the cooking process.
Once cooled, remove them from the water, place them on paper towel to get rid of the excess water, then arrange them on plates or a serving platter. Cover their center with a nice pile of the egg mimosa leaving the tips and ends visible. Decorate with the roasted radishes, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a little more parsley.
Serve and enjoy.
This dish is really easy to make, healthy and delicious to eat. It works well as a main meal, as an appetizer, as well as for buffets and picnics, since it can be prepared ahead and assembled at the last minute. It is also perfect for lunch, don’t you think?
It took me all afternoon to prepare this, but that is only because of pausing to photograph a million times – at least it felt that way – and having to constantly step around and over two pooches, who, when I am working in the kitchen, seem to have an amazing talent for being exactly where they should not be. Otherwise, it takes not time at all.
Another option could be to turn the chopped egg into a classic American egg salad, if that is your whim. The combination would taste great, I am sure, though it would not be quite as healthy. Or Italian.
What are your favorite dishes to prepare with the glorious abundance of spring vegetables? Which is your favorite way of eating asparagus?
And do you like lemons? Lemonade? Lemon cake? Lemon custard or curd? These Meyer lemons were so fragrant and sweet! Can you smell them?
If you enjoyed this recipe, here are a few more that are ideal for spring: