Batter Licker

May 26, 2011

green garlic pestoed asparagus “noodles” with poached egg

After whipping up a spontaneous batch of Green Garlic Walnut Pesto in less than five minutes, I found myself adding it to everything I could think of. Smearing a knifeful onto bruschetta; mixing a forkful into scrambled eggs; tossing a heaping spoonful into pasta. As I’ve admitted before, I’m a garlic fiend.

Peering into my fridge to find another pestoed possibility, a friendly bouquet of asparagus waved back at me, and I contemplated a twist on the traditional asparagus with poached egg.

Vegetable peeler in hand, I scraped away at the elegant asparagus stalks and reduced them to noodle-like strands. Halfway through, I wondered whether I had gone completely mad and destroyed a perfectly beautiful spring vegetable. But it was a bit too late to turn back.

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While two eggs poached nearby, I (very briefly) pan-fried the strands of asparagus and tossed them with pesto. Coiled into a bowl and topped with a peppered poached egg, the asparagus put on luxuriant airs once more.

As I tapped the egg and watched the velvety yolk drip over the pestoed ribbons of asparagus, I felt pleasantly surprised at how decadent this vegetarian dish tasted because of – rather than in spite of – its fresh, seasonal, whole food ingredients. It didn’t taste healthy. It tasted rich and flavorful.

The asparagus “noodles” made the dish whimsical, colorful, and more fun to eat than regular linguine, while the quick pan-fry left just enough crunch intact. Add in the fact that this meal comes together in 10 minutes tops, and I’m happy to whip this up for myself or some guests any night of the week. Seriously. Come on over. And while you’re at it, bring dessert.

Green Garlic Pestoed Asparagus “Noodles” with Poached Egg
Serves 2

Simple Basil Pesto or Parsley Pesto can be substituted if you have trouble finding green garlic (or if it’s out of season when you make this).

To stretch the asparagus further (e.g., for a family of four), cook 1/2 lb. pasta to toss with the pesto and asparagus, adding 1/2 c. or so of pasta water to stretch the pesto sauce (or just add a few more tablespoons of pesto that should be left from the original recipe).

1 bunch asparagus
1/2 tsp. olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. Green Garlic Walnut Pesto, room temperature
2 eggs
black pepper, freshly ground

Fill a skillet or pot 2-3 inches deep with water. Add a pinch of sea salt and bring water to a boil.

(While you wait for the water to boil, whip up the Green Garlic Walnut Pesto if you haven’t made it yet (it only takes a minute or two). Set aside at room temperature.)

(Now is also a good time to prep the asparagus. Using vegetable peeler, shave each asparagus spear into a long, thin “noodle.” Unsure how to do this in a clean and efficient manner? Check out Food52’s how-to video here. Set aside, and return your attention to the eggs.)

Before adding the eggs, turn heat down so water is at a very gentle boil. From here, there are two ways to poach the eggs. Legit way: Without breaking the yolk, crack each egg into a cup. Ease each egg from the cup into the water. Cheater way: Crack each egg into one of this cute little poach pods (don’t judge; I had a gift certificate!), sprinkle a pinch of salt and black pepper on each egg, then gently float the cup into the water.

Regardless of which way you choose, it should take 2-4 minutes for the egg to cook (2 minutes if you like it really runny, like I do; 3 minutes for medium firmness; 4 minutes for a firmer yolk). If you cooked it the legit way, scoop the egg out with a slotted spoon to drain the water, and if desired, pat the egg very gently with a paper towel to remove any remaining water. If you cheated, as I did, remove the cup from the pot, and invert the cup over a plate to yield a perfect little mound of poached eggy goodness.

Over medium heat, frequently toss shaved asparagus in olive oil just until slightly softened, no more than 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat, toss asparagus with pesto, and transfer out of hot pan into serving bowls. Top each bowl of pestoed asparagus noodles with a poached egg and freshly ground black pepper.


  1. Yum! This looks delicious, healthy and like the perfect weeknight spring dish! I already slice zucchini in with my noodles for a healthier carbonara, but this is another nice way to mix up traditional uses of veggies. Oh, and everything is better with a poached egg on top. Yes everything.

    Comment by Meghan — May 26, 2011 @ 11:32 am

  2. I love adding sliced zucchini or summer squashes to noodles, but asparagus is a nice (and crunchier) change of pace while it’s in season! And I completely agree that adding a poached egg improves almost everything, except PB&J on a spoon!

    Comment by Kristen — May 28, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  3. Thanks for the new recipe. I was just staring at an asparagus bunch in my fridge and asked myself “asparagus frittata, AGAIN? Ugh”

    Comment by Erika — May 29, 2011 @ 10:57 am

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