This is such a classic combination and for good reason.
This dish has all the perfect balances of texture, colour and flavour that a really great plate of food needs. The soft salty ham which gets ever-so crispy in the oven clings lovingly to vibrant spears of asparagus which retain just the right amount of bite to them despite their being roasted. All lying on a sweet and fresh bed of pea leaves, topped off with a perfectly boiled egg and a drizzle of balsamic dressing.
That’s the thing about cooking, it’s all about textures, colours and flavours. And usually contrasts are the best. Think of the best thing you have eaten recently and I can guarantee that chances are it contained a variety of colours which were pleasing on the eye. Think of a bowl of unappealing gruel…yes it may be from the ‘olden days’…but I know you’ve seen Oliver Twistand it’s no wonder it was so unappetising, it was all one colour…grey. All one texture…of sludge…and all one texture, that of congealed baby food. It probably also contained different textures, with a smooth puree here, a crunchy crackling there and perhaps a sprinkling of fresh and tender. To think of a contrast in flavours we only have to look to the phenomenon of salted caramel to see how amazing complete contrasts in flavours are.
For this plate I have rolled my egg in a delicious mixture. You don’t have to do this, the dish is perfect even without it, but I would highly recommend a spot of egg rolling. I’ve got a little carried away with rolling my eggs recently. I roll them in everything. Dukkah, sesame seeds, toasted nuts…you name it, and I’ve probably had a go at dunking a perfectly boiled egg into it. It’s just such an easy way of adding a touch of glamour to a dish. Okay, so thats probably not quite accurate. I wouldn’t say that rolling an egg adds glamour at all, but it does add another punch of flavour and just gives peoples taste buds another little avenue to explore, which is never a bad thing.
In this instance, I rolled the egg in a mixture of sesame seeds, ground seaweeds sheets, wasabi powder and puffed quinoa. The puffed quinoa added such a lovely crunch and the sesame, wasabi and seaweed just gave it a lovely and subtle hint of an undercurrent of japanese flavourings. Delicious.
This makes the most perfect starter for a dinner party, or just a delicious, nutritious, easy meal to knock up during the week or a lovely weekend brunch. Basically this is delicious any time, and best of all it is seriously easy to make. Whoopee.
The parma ham wrapped asparagus is also a perfect nibble to make when having drinks…but we warned they are incredibly easy to gobble and people will love them. (Asparagus) spears at the ready!
For a starter, I would make 4 wrapped asparagus spears and 1 egg per person. For a more substantial meal, look to make about 6 wrapped asparagus per person and 1 1/2 eggs. But feel free to gauge it for yourself!
- 8 asparagus spears
- 4 slices of parma ham
- 2 eggs
- 2 generous handfuls of pea leaves
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of balsamic
- 15g puffed quinoa
- 20g torn sheets of nori/seaweed
- 15g sesame seeds
- pinch of wasabi powder
- For the salad: Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Now to prepare the asparagus. Lay a piece of parma ham on your board. Then take a spear of asparagus and place it at the bottom of the slice of ham.
- Start rolling. Once you've got about half way up, stop rolling. Slice the ham.
- Then use another spear of asparagus to roll in the remaining ham. Each slice of ham will wrap two spears of asparagus. Repeat until all the asparagus has been wrapped. Wrap. Roll. Repeat...Eat (...not quite yet)
- Now place your little bundle of joys onto a baking tray with a piece of parchment (to help stop them sticking...AND to lessen your washing up...you're welcome)
- Drizzle with a tiny smidge of olive oil and give it a good grind of pepper. Pop into the hot oven for about 8-10 mins until the parma ham is lovely and crispy.
- Meanwhile you can pop the kettle on and then boil your eggs. Feel free to poach them if you are that way inclined. But please can I try and convince you to try my amazing method for getting the perfect egg? Have a look here for the method. It's so easy, I'd go as far to say foolproof.
- Now, mix together the balsamic and olive oil. I generally do this by popping it into a little jam jar and giving it a good shake...pretend you are a barman and give it your best moves.
- If you are ready to enter the world of egg rolling....which you most definitely should be. Simply pop the quinoa, seas weed, sesame and wasabi powder in a little bowl.
- Once you've peeled your boiled egg, he should be a little damp still, in which case roll him in the mixture and gently press the mixture so that it sticks to the egg. If its not sticking, you can just add a little olive oil to the egg to help encourage things to stick to him.
- Can you spot the egg??
- Assemble your salads, by placing large handful of pealeaves on the plate, scatter over the asparagus spears. Slice the eggs in half and pop these on the top.
- Then drizzle with the dressing. I like to sprinkle with a little of the left over puffed quinoa just to add an extra crunch.
Lets have a close up of that perfect egg…
Don’t forget to pop your email into the box on the right hand side. Happy Saturday!