Months later, I'm still dreaming about their hand-rolled lasagna noodles layered with spinach-leek puree and topped with a saffron-yellow fried egg... which was possibly the most sumptuous meal I've ever eaten. Yeah, remembering how the yolk oozed all unctuously down the sides, comingling slyly with the emerald-colored filling, oh baby, it's enough to keep me up nights. Until I buy a pasta machine, (or am given one, nudge nudge) that flashback fantasy will remain beyond my reach.
Not so the roasted asparagus. When I ordered it, I had no idea it would be extraordinary. The menu listed simply Asparagus, no portent of what was to come. When the plate of pencil-thin spears arrived, I was impressed. They were perfectly tender, carmelized at the edges and crusted with black pepper. In addition to my lascivious fried egg fantasies, for the past two months I've been dreaming of that plate of asparagus.
Having friends over for dinner this past weekend was the perfect excuse to take a stab at recreating this dish. Try it, while there's still gorgeous, sleek asparagus to be had.
Black Pepper Roasted Asparagus
1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces ( a little more than a pound is okay)
1 egg white, beaten
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed pink peppercorns, optional
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Whisk the seasonings into the egg white until well blended. Oil a 9 x 13" glass baking dish. Add the asparagus, and drizzle the egg white mixture over top. Using a flipper, turn and stir the asparagus until each piece is (more or less) evenly coated with pepper. Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of your spears.
And that's it, folks. It's so worth it, and so much easier (in my opinion) than boiling. I'd really like to try this someday using one of those "gourmet peppercorn blends," you know, the kind with the green ones, pink ones, and white ones mixed in? Fancy shmancy.