This is my favorite quick lunch. The recipe can be expanded for more people, and I’ve included a tip on how to do this. While I love the richness of the balsamic vinegar reduction, some people prefer this dish without it, and others add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar without creating a syrup, which requires a much smaller amount.
3 ounces of asparagus (I prefer thin, but either can be used)
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce (in a pinch, use a bottled sauce you like)
3/4 – 1 cup balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Add the balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and reduce over medium heat until syrupy. When desired consistency is reached, remove from heat.
Meanwhile, wash and snap the hard ends off the asparagus. Break egg into a small dish to ready it for poaching. Add the salt to a deep sauté pan filled with 2 – 4 inches of water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Warm the marinara sauce in the microwave and cover until ready to use.
Reduce the heat on the pan of water to medium and add the asparagus. Cook about 1 minute (longer for thick asparagus) until just done (crisp tender). Remove asparagus from water and let it drain on a paper towel. Raise heat on the pan of water to high. When it reaches a full boil, add 1 tablespoon white vinegar and reduce heat to a simmer. Gently, with the edge of the egg dish lowered level to the surface of the water, slide egg into the simmering water. Set timer for three minutes.
Pour the marinara sauce onto your serving plate(s). Place the asparagus across the marinara sauce. When the egg is finished poaching (approx. 3 minutes), carefully lift it out with a slotted spoon, blot gently with paper towel, and nestle the egg on top of the asparagus. Drizzle with the syrupy, delicious balsamic vinegar reduction, and enjoy!
Make ahead: If you are preparing this dish for several people, or a crowd, the poached eggs can be cooked ahead, the asparagus cleaned and stems snapped, and the balsamic vinegar reduced.
The eggs may be poached in advance and held in a shallow bowl of water held at 150°F for up to 30 minutes. If you need to prepare the eggs up to 24 hours in advance, remove the poached eggs from the cooking water and immediately place in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve them, transfer them to a bowl of water warmed to 150°F, cover and let stand for a minimum of 5 minutes, and up to 20 minutes. If your reheating water might have dropped below 150°, return the pan with the eggs to the stove over low heat before serving.