The City Magazine Since 1975

Asparagus & Spinach Salad with Smoked Egg Vinaigrette

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For the vinaigrette:
2 cups cherry wood chips
6 eggs
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
1 cup kosher salt
20 large asparagus spears, tough ends removed
1/2 lb. fresh spinach (not prepackaged babyleaves), washed and dried
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 oz. piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


For the vinaigrette:
Bring one gallon of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. The water should be at a low boil for the eggs. Gently add eggs. Cook them at a strong simmer for exactly six minutes. Remove the eggs and place in a bowl of ice water for at least 20 minutes. Carefully peel the eggs, place them on a rimmed baking sheet, and put it on the top rack of an unheated oven.

Turn on the stove’s exhaust fan. Open a window if you have a smoke detector in the kitchen. Turn a burner to high. Place the skillet with chips over the burner and keep it there until the chips produce generous smoke, about two minutes. Place the skillet of smoking chips on an oven rack below the eggs. Close the oven and leave it for 10 minutes. Return the skillet to a burner turned on high until the chips have begun to smoke again. Return the skillet to the oven. Repeat process up to three times, until the eggs have a yellowish hue.

Remove eggs from oven. Place warm eggs, mustard, and vinegar in a blender and blend on medium-high, slowly adding olive oil. The consistency should be like yogurt, but not as thick as mayo. If it is too thick, add a little cold water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Covered, it will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

For the salad:
Put salt and a gallon of water in a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Place the asparagus spears in the water for 20 seconds. Remove them from the pot and place in a bowl of ice water for one minute. Remove and drain on paper towels. Cut the asparagus on the diagonal into pieces about one inch long.

Toss the asparagus, spinach, and cherry tomatoes with just enough vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Divide the salad among four plates. Using a microplane, grate cheese over each salad.