Quail's eggs with asparagus and Parmesan shavings

    45 min

    Make this lovely, warm salad in late spring with the new season's asparagus. The lightly steamed, bright green spears are topped with poached quail's eggs, then finished with Parmesan shavings and a salad of lamb's lettuce and crunchy chicory. Accompany with slices of crisp baguette for an easy lunch.

    1 person made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 125 g (4½ oz) lamb's lettuce
    • 2 heads chicory, about 170 g (6 oz) in total
    • 15 g (½ oz) fresh chives, snipped
    • 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) asparagus
    • 1 tsp vinegar
    • 12 quail's eggs
    • 50 g (1¾ oz) Parmesan cheese, cut into fine shavings
    • Mustard vinaigrette
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • ½ tsp wholegrain mustard
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:35min  ›  Cook:10min  ›  Ready in:45min 

    1. Break up any large bunches of lamb's lettuce, then put into a mixing bowl. Thinly slice the chicory on the diagonal, discarding the last 1 cm (½ in) of the base. Add to the lamb's lettuce together with the chives and toss together. Set aside.
    2. Put all the ingredients for the dressing in a screw-top jar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Shake together to mix.
    3. Steam the asparagus for about 4 minutes or until barely tender. Alternatively, cook the asparagus in a wide pan of simmering water for 3–4 minutes. To test, pierce the thickest part of the stalk with a thin, sharp knife. If cooked in simmering water, carefully lift out the asparagus spears with a draining spoon and drain thoroughly on kitchen paper.
    4. While the asparagus is cooking, half fill a frying pan with water and bring to the boil. Add the vinegar, then reduce the heat so the water is just simmering. Carefully crack 4 of the quail's eggs, one at a time, and slip into the water. Cook for 1 minute or until the yolks have just set. Remove the poached eggs from the water with a draining spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm while poaching the rest of the quail's eggs.
    5. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss together. Spread out on a large serving platter. Arrange the asparagus on the salad and place the poached eggs on top. Scatter over the Parmesan shavings and grind a little pepper over the top. Serve immediately.

    Parmesan cheese

    Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.

    Plus points

    Though much smaller in size, quail's eggs have a very similar nutritional composition to hen's eggs. They therefore contain useful amounts of protein, plus vitamins A, E, B2, B12 and niacin. * Asparagus is a good source of many of the B vitamins, including folate which is important during the early stages of pregnancy, to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. * Parmesan cheese has a higher content of vitamin B12 than other cheeses. This vitamin is important for the formation of red blood cells and for helping to keep the nervous system healthy.

    Some more ideas

    Use rocket instead of chicory. * For quail's eggs with new potatoes and spinach, cook 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) scrubbed new potatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes or until tender; drain and cut in half. While the potatoes are cooking, grill 4 rashers of lean back bacon until crisp, then drain on kitchen paper and crumble. Toss the warm potatoes and bacon with 300 g (10½ oz) baby spinach leaves and 1 small red onion, finely chopped. Keep warm. Poach 12 quail's eggs as in the main recipe. Set the eggs on top of the spinach and potato salad, season with a grinding of pepper and serve immediately.

    Each serving provides

    folate * A, B1, C, E, calcium, zinc * B2, B6, niacin, copper, iron, potassium

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