pasta with asparagus & egg X3 @540

Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.



I just spent several days in Philadelphia hanging out with a group of small(ish) family grocers. Food highlights were the excellent burger at Bank & Bourbon on arrival, a Yards rye ale, followed by a flight of bourbons that finished with a very good special barrel from Knob Creek specifically for the bar. Last night’s dinner at Spraga was great—what a lovely room. The starting foie and ginger soup (I think they said foie) was outstanding, as were the duck and lobster pastas. Highly recommend. Also spent some time tasting amazing cheeses at DiBruno Bros. on Chestnut Street. Fabulous Von Trapp Oma, a raw milk cheese that had great balance of flavor and richness.

I’m off now to Minneapolis to see some more grocery stores and attend the AWP conference. I’m on the road and busy, so Emilia has pulled this post from the archives–it’s a great dish. And it highlights the magical egg. I’ll be in NYC for the Beard awards for that book in two weeks and looking forward to it. I hope Egg wins, but it’s up against the formidable Jennifer McLagan, whose superb book, Bitter, is also nominated. Several years ago Charcuterie was up against her book, Bones I think it was, also superb. Too superb, in fact! Because it won. And she may well win again. Which will be fine with me as more people need to know about her very cool and individualistic books. I’ll be back here next week. Happy cooking to all!—MR

Pasta, Asparagus, and an Egg

Originally Posted July 22, 2013 

I was about 24 hours into my vegan experiment, planning to prepare pasta with asparagus and olive oil. In Ruhlman’s Twenty, I write about what a felicitous pairing scallops and asparagus are and make a sauce by pureeing the stems and mounting the puree with butter, serving the reheated tips as garnish. Finding myself with a good bunch of asparagus, I thought, “I’ll bet pureed asparagus makes an excellent sauce for pasta. But still it’s going to need a little oomph. Hmmm. Perhaps some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Oops, not strictly vegan. But maybe just a few shaving, it’ll taste sooo much better.” I was hungry, and the dish needed a little extra something, which in so many instances is solved simply by adding an egg. Oh hell, why not mount a good deal of butter into that beautiful pureed asparagus and top the plate with a chicken’s egg.

Thus, my experiment in veganism came to a close with an absolutely fabulous, intensely asparagus-y pasta topped with more asparagus, cheese, and a fried egg. Worth every compromise. Looks like my own Ruhlman’s “twenty” will be sticking around for a while longer.

The following recipe will serve two full portions or four starter courses. The eggs can be poached rather than fried if you wish.

Pasta with asparagus and a fried egg. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Pasta with Asparagus and an Egg

  • 1.5 pounds asparagus, boiled till tender and shocked in ice water (save some of the cooking water)
  • 2 ounces butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 to 4 eggs
  • Vegetable oil for frying egg
  • Pasta as needed, 4 ounces dried per serving, cooked, oiled, kept warm
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cut off the asparagus tips, put them in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Cut the stems into 1-inch pieces and puree them in a blender, adding just enough of the reserved cooking water to get the puree going. Transfer the puree to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then swirl in the butter, keeping it moving till the butter is completely incorporated. Add a four-finger pinch of salt. Keep warm.
  3. Fry the eggs over high heat till the white is set, or cook as you wish.
  4. While the eggs are cooking, reheat the asparagus tips in a microwave (you might want to toss with a little olive oil or butter first).
  5. Toss however much pasta you feel like serving with the sauce till it’s evenly coated. Divide among plates. Grate cheese over each and top with the asparagus tips, followed by the egg.
  6. Crack pepper over the eggs and serve.

Yield: 2 full portions or 4 starter courses

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© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



10 Wonderful responses to “Think Spring: Asparagus, Pasta, and Egg”

  • Jennifer McLagan

    Happy to be in competition with you Michael. One is known by the company they keep and it couldn’t be better. Good luck to you and perhaps we can celebrate our nominations with a bitter cocktail one day soon.

  • Katie

    And THIS is part of the reason that is on my RSS feed.

    You’e real people, kind and supportive of one another, trying to put real (and really good!) food on plates and NOT be slavering, foulmouthed oafs whose behavior spoils the appetite.

    I want to buy all the books both of you bought, because I like you (and yeah, I’d geek out and read every word.)

  • Allen

    Anyone know of a good substitute for parmigiano reggiano?
    I am a fan of manchega cheese and Romano, much less expensive, but that crystal, salty crunch from the real thing seems to be inimitable.

  • Allen

    Post meal comment:
    This may be better than the tomato, garlic pasta. Just as easy to make.
    I paired it with some seared brown butter scallops drizzled with truffle oil and a sprinkling of truffle salt.
    Nice crusty bread to mop up the left over brown butter.
    A Perfect martini.
    A nice Chardonnay.
    So good.
    I’m not worthy.
    No one is worthy of this …

  • Robin

    This will most likely be the first dish I prepare when the asparagus is ready. I’m waiting impatiently for the last foot of snow on the garden to melt. I expect comfrey and rhubarb to be above ground when the snow is gone but I don’t know what happens with asparagus. I’d like time to weed before it pops up but I’d also like to be cutting three days ago.

  • Allen

    Louis C. K. made a great looking fried chicken on Louie. Air chilled organic chicken with a nice crust fried in lard.
    Worth watching if you can catch a rerun.

    • Allen

      Re watched, it was Spectrum organic vegetable shortening, not lard. I would like to try it, or get feedback from others on using it for frying.

      It’s sunny and springlike here in the NW, today’s cocktail is a white negroni with a lemon twist. TGIF

  • Strohm

    Made this with poached eggs for dinner last night and it was one of the best dishes I have had in a while. When I was blending the asparagus, I wasn’t so sure, but the addition of the butter and egg made for a fabulous flavor. Thanks Michael!

  • Ohiogirl

    One of the best dishes at the late, lamented Palate in Glendale CA was fresh thick spring asparagus, peeled, cooked till tender in butter and topped with zested lemon rind, salt and pepper, percorino and, a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg.

    It was so good and we ate it SO quickly, our server wasn’t sure it had actually been delivered.

    I now make it at home but, point is? Never underestimate the power of asparagus and eggs. They are awesome!