As soon as Fayetteville passed an ordinance to allow backyard chickens, we were down to the farmers co-op to pick out our adorable, peeping, bundle of feathers.
It was fascinating to watch them grow, and I love to observe their chicken behavior – they really do have a “pecking order”. Of course I look forward to their eggs, and one of my favorite dishes to make is this absolutely fabulous asparagus salad. We have served it several times at dinner parties as the appetizer, but it could easily stand on its own as a full meal.
ASPARAGUS WITH BACK YARD EGGS AND RICOTTA SALATA
1 to 2 bunches of asparagus, ends trimmed
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
6 large eggs
6 slices of crusty bread
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 whole anchovies
3/4 cup oil cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
grated zest of 2 lemons
6 ounces of shaved ricotta salata
Blanch asparagus in a large pot of boiling water for 3 minutes, then place in an ice bath until cold.
Remove asparagus and dry with paper towels, set ice bath aside.
Rub asparagus with olive oil, and grill until just charred. Let cool to room temperature.
Boil eggs in shells for 6 minutes. Place in the ice bath and peel once cool. Set eggs aside and cut into halves just before serving.
Brush both sides of the bread with oil, grill just until grill marks show. Set aside.
To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice with salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Mix well, whisk in 1/2 to 3/4 cup of olive oil.
To serve, divide bread among 6 plates. Lightly coat grilled asparagus with dressing, then place spears on top of bread slices. Arrange egg halves and anchovies on the plates and sprinkle chopped olives.
Drizzle remaining dressing, then add lemon zest and shaved cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, May 2009