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Quail eggs, asparagus and fennel feast:
I have some quail eggs left from making kedgeree. And, I managed to find some English asparagus this week, though it did look a little sad! So, rather than just steaming it, I wanted to make something different, since this summer the asparagus is such a rarity.
The Wild Fennel Pollen has been sent to me to try by Global Harvest. When it first arrived I opened the pot and sniffed (as you do) and tasted just a tiny bit. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever tried…tiny flavour explosions of sunshine with just a slight taste of aniseed. I will, of course, be experimenting some more and trying it in other dishes. Apparently, it is particularly popular in Italy and used there a lot with fish and cheese.
This recipe is so simple but worked very well. Pairing egg and asparagus is not new but the addition of a light lemony dressing and just a little bit of fennel pollen has made it very special. Eat it as a warm salad – if you do better than me at cooking the eggs, you should have warm runny egg yolk mixing in with the asparagus! If you don’t have quail eggs, you could use chopped chicken eggs, just try to leave some gooeyness in the yolks rather than hard-boiling.
- 1 bunch English Asparagus trimmed and washed
- 3 Quail Eggs
- 1 Lemon juiced
- 100 ml Extra virgin olive oil
- Fennel Pollen
- Trim the asparagus. If they have woody ends you may also need to scrape and turn them
- Steam the asparagus in a large pan of boiling salted water and drain
- Make a light lemon dressing by mixing lemon juice and olive oil into an emulsion. You want about 1/5 the amount of lemon juice to oil, so one whole lemon will make too much dressing for one person, but it keeps well in the fridge
- Soft boil the quail eggs. This should take 2mins 30 secs, and as you can see from the photo mine are slightly overdone. But, it doesn't really matter so long as you have a softish yolk and firm white.
- Make up the salad by dressing the asparagus with the lemon and oil and then placing the eggs on top. Garnish with a pinch of fennel pollen.
If like me, your asparagus is a bit woody, then after you’ve trimmed off the worst, turn the ends…use a sharp vegetable knife or peeler and just peel off the top woody layer. And, if you don’t happen to have fennel pollen, try a little lemon zest instead.