Bright-green asparagus do most of the talking here. The anchovy bread crumbs, jammy eggs, and polka dots of chile paste make this filling enough for dinner. And, I know, a pound of asparagus per person sounds scandalous. And it sort of is. But that’s what makes it fun. Of course, this would also make a great side next to any protein, like roast chicken, pan-fried pork chops, or crispy-skinned fish. —Emma Laperruque
2 to 4
kosher salt, plus flaky salt for serving
thick slices rustic bread (about 150 grams)
extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
(2-ounce) can anchovy fillets, drained and minced
asparagus, ends trimmed
crushed Calabrian chile paste, plus more to taste
Add the water to a stockpot, cover, and set over high heat to come to a boil. When it starts bubbling, add the salt.
While the water heats up, make the anchovy bread crumbs. Tear the bread into pieces and add to the bowl of a food processor (yes, keep those crusts—they add color and flavor). Pulse until you have mostly-fine bread crumbs; some unevenness is nice.
Add the olive oil to a large nonstick pan and set on the stove over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the anchovies. Stir-fry for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the bread crumbs, tossing in the anchovy oil to completely coat. Toast for about 7 minutes—stirring occasionally and lowering the heat as needed—until the bread crumbs are golden-brown and crisp. Turn off the heat.
When the salted water is boiling, cook the asparagus for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalk, until it’s slightly firmer than you’d like. Carryover cooking will take care of the rest. When the asparagus are done, remove with tongs to a colander to drain.
Let the water return to a boil, then carefully add the eggs (a slotted spoon works well), and immediately set a 6-minute timer. Fill a small bowl with some ice cubes and cold water. When the timer goes off, transfer the eggs to the ice bath. Peel the eggs—doing this in the water makes things much easier.
Assemble on individual plates or a big platter: Top the asparagus with the eggs, then use a fork to smash them into big, uneven chunks. Drizzle with olive oil and top with a pinch of flaky salt. Sprinkle with anchovy bread crumbs. Dab some chile paste onto the broken eggs. Serve warm or at room temperature—with the rest of the anchovy bread crumbs and more chile paste alongside, so everyone can add more of each while they’re eating.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.