Poached Egg and Asparagus Salad with Pancetta and Toasted Almonds

OK I know this is not the most popular opinion out there (I’ve heard some people call it sacrilege, inconceivable, even blasphemous), but my name’s Liz and I like salad for brunch. OK? Gasp, I know. Well, the way I conceptualized today’s recipe was originally thinking about a play on bacon and eggs, but in a salad form…because I love salad. But, if you are one of those who is so morally opposed to salad for breakfast or brunch, how about we agree that this salad could also easily be enjoyed during the lunch hour, and everyone wins.

Shaved asparagus salad topped with a poached egg, crisp pancetta, and toasted almonds with a lemon-honey vinaigrette.

Now, let’s discuss the food, shall we? Today I’m whipping up a simple green salad, but, well, way better. To start, rather than using simple greens, I mix some delicious peppery microgreens (arugula works well too) with shaved asparagus. The asparagus not only makes a simple salad look that much more exciting, but also adds a crunchy element and great flavour! I love adding shaved veggies to jazz up my salads, such as zucchini, beets, or radishes. You can hand slice these, or invest in a cheap mandolin to make the job that much quicker! I also like to add thinly sliced green onions to my salads. They are a little sweeter and milder than a regular onion, but still add that much needed bite.

Shaved asparagus salad topped with a poached egg, crisp pancetta, and toasted almonds with a lemon-honey vinaigrette.

Then of course, comes the star: the poached egg. Poaching is my favourite way of treating eggs because it maintains all the runny gooiness of the yolk better than frying or boiling. I know so many people who are afraid to poach an egg and destroy it, but I promise you it’s really easy! I have a fool proof method that produces a perfectly poached egg every time. Scroll down to check it out!

And to pair with the egg of course, bacon! I chose to crisp up some diced pancetta (fancy bacon), which is the perfect way to add smokey, salty flavour to any dish, while still looking elegant. Finally, I top off this salad with some toasted almonds for crunch, shaved parm, and a light lemon-honey vinaigrette. So whenever and wherever you choose to eat it, I guarantee this salad will impress your taste buds and keep you satisfied!

How to Poach an Egg:
If you have your own secret tricks or want to perform voodoo magic on your poached eggs, by all means you do you! But if you’re new to the poaching scene, take a whack at this tried and tested method! The trick with poaching is to take things slow, and start with one egg at a time.
1. Fill a medium-sized pot at least half-way up, and bring to a boil
2. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the boiling water, and reduce heat to a very low simmer. It is very important that your water is not boiling before adding the egg to poach
3. Crack your egg into a small ramekin or bowl
4. Take a large slotted spoon in one hand and gently create a small whirlpool in the centre of the pot by spinning the spoon around the edges of the pot a few times. With the other hand, bring the ramekin very close to the surface of the water. Slightly tilt your wrist to gently slide the egg into the water at the centre of the whirlpool
5. Step away! Set your timer for 1.5 to 2 minutes if you want your egg runny like mine is in the photo. For a firmer yolk, you’ll want to leave your egg for 3-4 minutes
6. While the egg is cooking, prepare a clean plate with a piece of paper towel on top
7. When the time is up, remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon and gently place on paper towel

Poached Egg and Asparagus Salad with Pancetta and Toasted Almonds 
Total time: 20 minutes
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients
1 egg
4 asparagus spears
Large handful of salad greens (arugula, spinach, or microgreens)
1 green onion
2 tbsp. pancetta, cubed
1 tbsp. sliced almonds
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. honey
salt and pepper
shaved parmigiano reggiano (use vegetable peeler for thin shavings)

Instructions
1. Fill a medium-sized pot until almost full. Cover and bring to a boil
2. Prepare the salad greens: shave asparagus lengthwise with a mandolin or with your knife if you’re feeling like a pro. If this is too mentally tough on a Saturday morning, slice the asparagus thinly on an angle! Slice the green onion thinly on an angle
3. Place asparagus shavings in a colander in sink, and slowly pour some of the boiling water from the stove over top (but leave some in for the egg). This just lightly blanches the asparagus so it is slightly softer. Rinse with cold water immediately
4. In toaster oven, oven, or pan, lightly toast the almonds, no oil necessary
5. Pan-fry the pancetta on medium-high heat until crisp and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. No oil necessary. Place on paper towel until ready to serve
6. In small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper
7. Time to poach! Read instructions above under “How to Poach an Egg”
8. Assemble salad by first mixing asparagus, lettuce greens, and green onion together. Carefully place poached egg on top, and garnish with pancetta, almonds, parmigiano, and salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Shaved asparagus salad topped with a poached egg, crisp pancetta, and toasted almonds with a lemon-honey vinaigrette.

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