Friday, April 20, 2012
ASPARAGUS, PROSCIUTTO, EGG, AND PICKLED ONION SANDWICHES
This is the most beautiful sandwich I’ve ever made. It just says “spring” all over, with its delicate hues of pastel green, yellow, and pink and its Eastery flavors of ham, eggs, asparagus, lemon, and dill. I can’t take any credit; I never would have come up with it on my own, especially since I’m not a huge sandwich maker/eater, and in fact I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me to put asparagus on a sandwich at all. (Recipe is from the always-helpful Kitchn.) And it certainly wasn’t any great achievement to put together—boil egg, sear asparagus, slice things, and stack. But it looks and tastes like a work of art. The combination of ingredients initially surprised me, but they work together so well it seems almost inevitable—grassy, tart, creamy, salty, bright, herby, and savory in perfect balance. I’m already jonesing for this again (and this time I’ll double the recipe because I hear the sandwiches are just as good if not better the next day), so I imagine it will be a staple meal for us as long as asparagus is in season.
The only major change I made to the original was to add prosciutto, which was suggested in the comments, and it was the ideal party guest, sliced so thin that it didn’t overwhelm its gentler companions, but adding just a tinge of meaty substance and chew. However, vegetarians can feel free to leave it out without missing too much. I was actually thinking that sliced radishes might be a good addition as well, or maybe it's just that they’d fit in so well with the springy theme and color scheme. If I try it, I’ll let you know.
My sole complaint was not with the recipe, but with my ingredients: my baguette (purchased from Trader Joe’s earlier that day) was extremely hard. I microwaved it a bit, skipped the toasting step, and was generous with the liquid components, but it still made biting and chewing these sandwiches a real workout for our jaws. If I can’t get a better baguette next time, I might consider toasted ciabatta or a softer sandwich roll instead.
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced (or a few tablespoons of diced red onion)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Half a bunch of asparagus spears (about 15–30, depending on thickness)
Olive oil to taste
2 small baguettes (or a similar portion of a larger baguette, enough for two sandwiches about the same length as your asparagus spears)
Dijon mustard to taste
4 slices prosciutto
Fresh dill to taste
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Hard-boil the eggs and set aside.
2. Place the red wine vinegar in a small bowl, add the sliced shallot and a few pinches of salt, and stir. Set aside to pickle while you make the rest of the sandwich.
3. Trim the asparagus by cutting off the woody ends; try to get the spears to a roughly uniform length, about the same length as your bread. If the spears are thick, cut them in half lengthwise. In a large skillet over high heat, add a little oil. Sear the asparagus spears, about 3 or 4 minutes on each side. You want a little bit of char, so don't move the asparagus very often. Remove from skillet and set aside.
4. Split bread in half lengthwise; toast lightly if desired. Brush the top half with a little olive oil; spread mustard on the bottom half. Place two slices of prosciutto atop each mustard-covered piece, then add half the asparagus to each sandwich. Peel and slice the eggs and add half of the slices to each sandwich. Top with dill and pickled onions, then season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon to taste.
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: I haven’t tried it, but the original recipe says it will keep a day in the fridge and might be even better the next day, although the bread will lose its crustiness.