Roasted Asparagus with Preserved Lemon Yogurt Sauce and Poached Eggs

Roasted Asparagus with Preserved Lemon Yogurt Sauce and Poached Eggs

Lately, I've been using my Instant Pot quite a bit to make yogurt. This homemade yogurt is superior to the store bought version and pretty much hassle free. The recipe I use is from Janet Fletcher’s book YOGURT. I use Strauss organic milk to make it because of the great taste and pudding-like consistency.
The flavor is pure comfort food. When you taste it if you close your eyes you can imagine laying in a beautiful grassy field on a knoll with the insects are buzzing all around. Now open your eyes! The recipe possibilities are endless whether you’re using it in sweet or savory dishes. Then there’s the added bonus of all the live cultures, which I’m sure you’ve read about their many health benefits.
I’m not sure what inspired this recipe…sometimes wandering the farmers’ market or surveying what’s on hand. This recipe of asparagus roasted crisp, on a pouf of lemony yogurt sauce, topped with a poached egg, and Marash chili.

Roasted Asparagus with Preserved LemonYogurt Sauce and Poached Eggs
Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound asparagus (1 bunch)
4 large organic fresh eggs
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 preserved lemon*, rinsed and minced
1/2 teaspoon Marash chili (or another mild dry chili)
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 quarts water (for cooking the egg)

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk together yogurt, lemon zest, preserved lemon, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
2. Remove tough ends from the asparagus. If the asparagus is more than 1/2 inch in diameter use a vegetable peeler to lightly peel. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on a sheet pan and bake in the center of the oven for approximately 12 minutes until golden brown. Keep warm until needed.
3. To poach the eggs, boil 1 1/2 quarts of water in a wide pan. Set a large bowl (1 1/2 quarts) of warm water near the stove. Crack 1 egg at a time into a cup with a handle, hold the cup by the handle and dip the cup into the simmering water letting the water enter the cup. Empty the cup into the water and gently simmer 2 – 3 minutes, until egg whites are firm. Using your finger, press the egg white, checking for firmness if it is firm near the yolk lift it out with a slotted spoon and into the bowl of warm water.
4. Trim the egg of any scraggly white bits to give it a nice shape. Scrape off with a paring knife or your fingers.
5. Place 1/4 cup of yogurt onto a plate. Lay the asparagus on the yogurt. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of lemon olive oil over asparagus and yogurt. Place an egg on top of the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and Marash.

*If you don’t have preserved lemons you can substitute with the zest of another lemon. It will still be delicious. You can make preserved lemons but they take 30 days to make, or you can buy online.
Preserved Lemons
Preserved lemons a stable in North Africa and Middle Eastern cuisines are a cinch to make. I’m addicted to the irresistible flavor of preserved lemons, and they’re a key staple in my kitchen. When added to dishes they become complex tasting and give an irresistible lemon flavor-- making the 30 days wait worthwhile. You can make them with all types of lemons and other citrus including Meyer lemon and bearss limes (my personal favorite) with excellent results. They will last for at least a year, so make a large batch. You don’t need to refrigerate them, however after the 30 days I generally refrigerate them. When making a new batch use some of the salty liquid from the previous one to make it.
You can use the rinds and pulps. The rinds yield the most flavor. Once you’ve made them a few times, you won’t need a recipe. Sometimes I add more cinnamon or include a star anise make it to your taste preferences. I adore the taste of cinnamon, lemon and salt.
Makes 5 preserved lemons

5 organic lemons, washed
1 cup Diamond kosher salt, more if needed
1 cinnamon stick (3-4 inches)
8 coriander seeds
5 cloves
5 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
freshly squeezed lemon juice, if necessary

Equipment:
Shallow bowl
1-quart sterile wide mouth-glass jar with tight fitting lid
Sharp knife

1. Quarter the lemons from the top to within about 1/4 inch of the bottom, place about a tablespoon of salt in the interior, then squeeze to reshape the fruit. Save the excess salt that falls out as you close the lemon you can to add to the jar as you are packing in the lemons in as needed
2. Cover the bottom of the Mason jar with salt 1/4 ¼-1/2 inch of salt. Pack in the lemons and push them down, adding more salt, and the spices between layers. Press the lemons down to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons. (If the juice released lemons does not cover them, by the next day add freshly squeezed lemon juice.) Leave about 3/4 inch headspace before sealing the jar.
3. Let the lemons cure on the counter, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice. Do this for 30 days. The rind should be velvety soft when they are cured.

To use-
I usually use 1/2 a preserved lemon in most recipes. Rinse the lemons under cold running water. Separate the pulp from the rind. Use the rind per the recipe. If you think it needs a bit more use the pulp too.

Adapted from Paula Wolfert.

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Copyright © Julie Logue Riordan, Cooking with Julie