Whether they’re classic green, white (popular in the Veneto), or purple (like the famous Albenga asparagus from Liguria), all asparagus varieties are low in calories and packed with flavour! Plus, they’re good for you: rich in fibre, vitamins and potassium.
In Milan, my home city, we enjoy them Milanese-style: boiled, sautéed with butter, and garnished with a couple of fried eggs “sunny side up”. This dish is known by some as Asparagus “à la Bismarck”: a description for dishes accompanied by fried eggs.
[Of course, in Italy, even pizza can be à la Bismarck!]
But what does Otto von Bismarck have to do with eggs? It seems that the famous Prussian chancellor couldn’t get enough of them, even eating up to 12 at a time. Not the healthiest diet – who knows how much cholesterol... And yet, he lived to be 83 years old! ;)
Well, our recipe only calls for a couple of eggs – best not to overdo it! But we’ll be generous with the asparagus!
30 minutes [20 minutes preparation, 10 minutes cook time]
Ingredients [serves 4]
- 1 kg asparagus
- 8 eggs
- 80 g butter
- 100 g Parmigiano Reggiano (grated or fine shavings)
- A slice of lemon
- A high-sided pot
- Kitchen twine
- A non-stick frying pan
- A sharp knife
As you probably already know, asparagus need to be washed and prepared by removing the toughest and most fibrous part – the part on the opposite end from the tip.
Tie them in a bundle with kitchen twine and stand them upright (with the tips up) in a pot of boiling water, to which you’ll have added salt and some acidity from the slice of lemon. Boil the asparagus for a few minutes, depending on their size.
Be careful: guessing exactly how long to cook the asparagus is the only challenge in this otherwise very easy recipe. To test how soft they are, you can use a toothpick – the prongs of a fork could break them.
Drain the asparagus, collecting the bundle carefully, untie them and place them directly on your four serving plates. While they’re still hot, sprinkle them generously with Parmigiano cheese.
Meanwhile, melt half of the butter in a frying pan and fry the eggs sunny side up. Again, be careful with the timing: the eggs should be cooked ideally on a high heat while making sure that the yolk doesn’t break and, above all, keeping the yolk runny. The egg white, on the other hand, should be well cooked and perfectly white, with no transparent wobbly strands.
A LITTLE TIP. While cooking the eggs, tilt the pan and collect the excess butter with a spoon: pour it back over the yolks and you’ll get a very light film of instantly solidified egg white. And you can say goodbye to those pesky “wobbly strands” we mentioned!
Once cooked to perfection, place the eggs directly onto the plates, next to the steaming asparagus: remember, the asparagus and eggs need to be cooked at the same time.
In the same pan you cooked the eggs in, quickly melt the remaining butter: golden and foamy, it will garnish the asparagus covered in Parmigiano. WOW!
Finish everything off with salt and pepper and take your plates to the table at lightning speed: Milanese-style asparagus should be enjoyed piping hot!
DIETARY TIP. You can replace the butter with raw extra virgin olive oil and fry the eggs by greasing only the bottom of the pan, without any excess oil. Purists may turn up their noses, but it can be a valid alternative.
Buon appetito! 💗