A classic combo

I made dinner last night the way I do most nights: I plopped Sally in her high chair, rummaged through the fridge, and started pulling eggs and cheese and veggies out. I steamed and buttered a bundle of asparagus and a few spears of broccoli rabe. While she smeared greens and grease and hamburger on her cheeks and up her nose and even in her hair, I tried to figure out how to make a meal from a fridge that was nearly bare. 

I didn't have a plan. I hardboiled a few eggs; I made a pot of oat groats; I put a pot of pinto beans on to simmer. I went upstairs to sit with Sally while she tried to make sense of the funnel in the tub, and when she was clean and in bed I washed and combed my own hair. Then I walked out to the garden in pajamas and slippers and filled a colander with bolted arugula and spinach. I soaked it clean and spun it dry, then minced a shallot, melted a pat of butter in a pan.

It came together quickly in the end: fragrant shallots and red pepper flakes sautéed with butter and al-dente asparagus spears. I put these over a bed of spinach and arugula drizzled with olive oil, and I remembered a salad we have at Blackfish—local greens and asparagus with a runny poached egg and a dollop of honey creme fraiche. I whisked together Cloumage and honey and a bit of EVO and scooped a spoonful onto a quartered hardboiled egg, put this on top of the greens and asparagus. Finally, I put a pile of steamed oat groats on the side, drizzled with olive oil and spiked with Bragg's liquid aminos for salt. It was simple, homey, fresh. And it was a nice reminder that dinner at home can be easy and fast, with no need to sacrifice local or fresh.


I feel like I make some rendition of this salad while asparagus is in season every year. Eggs and asparagus are a classic combo, and the greens and soft, sweet cheese make it a perfect meal for a warm June night.

1 bundle asparagus (roughly 1 pound)
1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot, minced
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 pound mixed greens (I used half spinach, half arugula, which was a nice blend)
2 hard- or soft-boiled eggs
1/2 cup Cloumage
1/2 teaspoon honey
extra virgin olive oil
2 lemon wedges
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Steam the asparagus until the color just changes to bright green. Drain and set aside.

Put the butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and red pepper flakes and warm over medium heat until they are just fragrant. 

Arrange the mixed greens in two big single-serving salad bowls. Lay half of the asparagus on top of each, then drizzle the warm butter/shallot/red pepper mixture over each bundle. Quarter the eggs and arrange these on top. 

Whisk together the Cloumage, honey, and EVO to taste (I used about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons oil). Spoon half of this cheese mixture in a scoop on top of each salad; drizzle the greens with more olive oil to taste. 

Serve the salads with a lemon wedge and salt and pepper to taste. We ate ours with warm "rice" (oat groats) and beans, which made a nice accompaniment.

P.S. Has anyone ever tried saving arugula seeds? My plants look like they're getting close, but I've never collected the seeds. If you have any tips about drying, collecting, and saving them, I'd love to know!

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.