Finally, FINALLY, Spring is on its way. That extra hour of sunlight means everything. The world is warmer, the days are longer, and after a very harsh end-of-winter, things are finally looking up.
A change of season is a good excuse for cleansing – physical, material and emotional. I want to take less sugar in my morning coffee (because I’m not there yet, giving up azucarrrr). I want to go through my winter and summer wardrobes and purge all of the things that I’m holding onto in the hopes that it will some day come back in style or because it was SUCH a good find. And emotionally, I want to kick old habits that keep me from fully enjoying the present. I’m talking mainly about obsessing over figuring everything out. That is, trying to meticulously plan things to ensure your future will turn out as you wish. I read Andrew Solomon’s recent New Yorker piece offering advice to young writers and had one of those moments when you feel that the writer is speaking directly to you. I know, I know, it sounds like millennial narcissism, but I’m sure the piece resonated with a lot of people, non-millenials included. Quoting a poet, he writes:
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms, or books written in a foreign language.*
And I was like YES. It’s okay not to know the entirety of my career trajectory or if I’ll stay in New York forever – and it’s even better to embrace the mystery and just focus on living. Right now.
Anyway, the arrival of Spring entails shaking up our crusty, winter diet too with the resurgence of Spring produce. Artichokes, spring onions, leeks, morels, and you guessed it, asparagus. As I wrote about in an earlier post, back when I was living in Bilbao, green asparagus is less bitter than it’s cousin, white asparagus. The difference in color derives from sunlight exposure. Whereas green asparagus spears poke through the soil and grow in the sunlight, allowing them to undergo photosynthesis, white asparagus shoots are hidden from sunlight during growth. Some people see white asparagus as more of a delicacy, probably because it’s just not as typical. In Spain, people eat white asparagus cold, dipped it heaps of homemade mayonnaise. Me, I generally prefer the taste and texture of the green variety.
Today, in honor of the new season, I’m feeling celebratory, so I’m opting for the most colorful plate possible: green asparagus and blue corn tortillas and bright yellow fried eggs and spicy red Sriracha sauce. This may be the most simple, nutritious, Mexican-inspired feasts you’ll ever make. Now hurry to your closest farmers’ market and pick up some spring-y green asparagus!
(serves 4, 2 tortillas each)
- 1 bunch green asparagus. I like the skinny ones, but the important thing is that they are fresh. Check the tips to make sure they look firm. A mushy tip will not do.
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced.
- 8 eggs
- 1 avocado, pitted and sliced lengthwise
- 1 handful cilantro, cleaned thoroughly (gritty herbs are a big NO), stems removed
- crunchy salt
- ground black pepper
- Sriracha sauce
- 4 tablespoons olive oil plus some extra virgin for drizzling at the end.
- Preheat over to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- Rinse asparagus and break off white-ish ends with your hands. This is preferable to cutting off the ends because if you bend and break, the asparagus will snap off naturally at the point where stems are weak and not good for eating.
- Spread asparagus and garlic in a baking sheet or pan with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Rolling asparagus around to coat evenly with oil. Top with ground black pepper and a couple of pinches of crunchy salt.
- Roast for 20 – 25 minutes, tossing the asparagus once at the halfway point. When done, asparagus should be turning golden-brown and crispy on the tips.
- While asparagus is roasting, add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large pan (I use a cast iron) over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, break 4 eggs into the oil (or less if it’s easier to do in batches of 2). When whites are almost completely set, throw a quarter cup of water into the pan and seal with lid, allowing eggs to steam. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, depending on how dippy you like your eggs. Remove to a separate plate and repeat with remaining eggs.
- You’re almost there! Throw the tortillas on a baking pan and put into your still-warm oven while you prep the other ingredients. As an alternative, you can heat tortillas over an open flame if you have a gas stove, leaving them right on the burner over a low flame for 10 seconds on each side.
- Arrange a small pile of asparagus stalks, cut in half if you prefer, on each tortilla. Top with a fried egg, a couple slices of avocado, a mound of cilantro, Sriracha sauce to taste, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of crunchy salt.
* I’m taking this quote slightly out of context, so do read the entire article to put it back in context.