A vegetarian brunch recipe for two
This simple recipe featuring asparagus and eggs is a guaranteed home run for a spring brunch. (But I also like it for breakfast and even for dinner.) The nutty flavor of brown butter makes a great sauce for springtime asparagus. And the addition of hard-boiled eggs to this brown butter asparagus gives the dish protein. And they also give this easy asparagus dish a romantic spin. (Did you know that eggs are a global symbol of fertility?)
How to make roasted asparagus with brown butter
For this recipe, I like to roast the asparagus in the oven. Roasting is an easy cooking method that helps the asparagus develop great flavor and accentuates the vegetable’s earthy notes. (If you’re short on time, you can cook the asparagus for this recipe by steaming it in the microwave. But steaming shows more of the vegetable’s “green” notes.)
Roasting asparagus is simple but here are a few tips to help you make flavorful, not overcooked or stringy asparagus:
- Don’t crowd the roasting pan. Roast the asparagus in a single layer, ensuring no overlap. If your asparagus is crowded, it will partially steam and it won’t develop the desired roasted flavor.
- Don’t walk away from the oven. Keep an eye on your asparagus to avoid overcooking. Overcooked asparagus can get mushy. Depending on thickness, your asparagus may cook in more or less time than noted in the recipe. Medium asparagus (as pictured) should take 10-15 minutes.
- Use fresh asparagus. Older asparagus can have a woody texture that sometimes feels stringy after it’s cooked.
What is brown butter?
Brown butter is one of those magical ingredients that enhances the taste of any dish, savory or sweet. Its flavor brings a unique, nutty depth that makes everyone want to lick the plate.
Brown butter is simply butter that has been cooked to the point that its milk solids get toasted. If you’d like a more in-depth scientific explanation, check out this article from Serious Eats.
Making brown butter
The technique of making brown butter is a little tricky in that you have to watch it continuously. I use a rubber spatula to stir as it melts to make sure that the butter melts evenly. As the water evaporates from the butter, it will start to spit and hiss. If you have a splatter screen, you may want to use it.
Be sure to stir continuously as the color of the butter starts to turn. Once it gets to a nutty, light brown color, remove it from the heat immediately. You only want to take the butter slightly past the melting point. Beware of letting it burn.
Don’t be afraid to try transforming butter into this rich, nutty sauce. But a quick note for novices, you might want to have extra butter on hand the first time you make this brown butter sauce. That way, you can just start over if you let the butter get too brown. (It’s ok to fail!)
Making brown butter is a cooking skill worth mastering. It can be used for everything from making brown butter frosting for cakes to these brown butter eggs.
Make it a full meal by adding brown butter eggs
Once you’ve mastered this step in this tasty egg and asparagus recipe, you will not believe what a sprinkling of hard-boiled eggs and a bit of brown butter does to beautiful spring asparagus. The combination of oil, nutty butter, creamy egg yolk and herbaceous asparagus is unforgettable.
This asparagus dish is wonderful on its own. You can use it as the side dish to any protein. But if you want to turn it into a craving-worthy spring brunch dish, follow the rest of the recipe to add brown butter eggs.
How to make hard-cooked eggs in the oven
The traditional way to make hard-cooked eggs is by submerging in water and cooking on the stovetop. (Although we call these eggs hard-boiled, the correct name is hard-cooked, since the eggs actually cook in the hot water once it’s removed from the heat, not in boiling water.)
But what if I told you there’s an easier way to make hard-cooked eggs?
You can produce hard-cooked eggs in the oven. You can just put the raw eggs in their shells straight on the oven rack if you like, although I find it easier to transport the eggs in the cups of a muffin tin.
Just preheat the oven to 325 degrees, then cook the eggs for 30 minutes. After the eggs have cooked, transfer them to an ice bath as you would with eggs cooked on the stovetop. It’s really as simple as that! (Of course, if you like the traditional method, you can make this recipe with hard-boiled eggs on the stovetop.)
If you like your hard-boiled eggs with a soft center
For this asparagus with hard-boiled eggs recipe, you will need your yolks to be cooked to firm, so you can chop them. However, you can also use this cooking method to make soft center hard-cooked eggs. Just cook the eggs in the over for a shorter time, about 20-25 minutes.
Why this is asparagus and eggs recipe is a meal for romance
If you’ve ever read my list of the 10 Best Foods for Women’s Sexual Health, then you know some of the reasons why I love eggs. But eggs aren’t just for women. As I mentioned in the intro, eggs are international symbols of fertility. In fact, they have been linked with romantic coupling since the beginning of recorded time.
As for asparagus, my favorite spring vegetable also has links to romantic love – and sex, too, of course. Although the link between asparagus and sex was once thought to be because of the vegetable’s phallic form, we now know that asparagus is a gift of nutrition to support sexual health.
Asparagus delivers several nutrients that support your sex life including vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, manganese and folate. So whether you serve it as a breakfast in bed or just an easy, Sunday night supper, this eggs and asparagus dish has some serious potential for sparking romance.
Brown Butter Asparagus with Hard-Cooked Eggs
- 2 hard-boiled eggs*
- 12-16 stalks fresh asparagus medium thickness
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter quartered
- crusty whole grain bread
For the asparagus:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Snap the bottoms off the stalks of asparagus. Wash and pat dry.
- Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and dot with butter. Season with salt. Roast for 10-15 minutes, until tender.
For the eggs:
- Peel and roughly chop the eggs.
- Make the brown butter: Melt the cubes of butter in a small saute pan over medium heat, stirring continuously. The butter will become foamy then begin to brown. When it turns dark amber and begins to smell nutty, add the eggs.
- Turn heat to low and saute the eggs for 1-2 minutes until heated through.
- Divide the asparagus between 2 plates. (We recommend warming the plates to keep the dish hot.) Top with the eggs and drizzle with any remaining butter. Serve immediately with crusty, whole grain bread.
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