5 Ingredients or Fewer

Asparagus With Soft-Boiled Eggs & Anchovy Bread Crumbs

April  1, 2019
6 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 6 quarts water
  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt, plus flaky salt for serving
  • 2 thick slices rustic bread (about 150 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets, drained and minced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed Calabrian chile paste, plus more to taste
  1. Add the water to a stockpot, cover, and set over high heat to come to a boil. When it starts bubbling, add the salt.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • west757
  • Cheryl
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • Linda D
    Linda D
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

5 Reviews

west757 April 27, 2020
Made this dish yesterday for the first course as part of a 2-course dinner. The combination of flavors was great and everything cooked to perfection. I used Korean gochujang paste since I had that in the house. Definitely a keeper! Thank you!
Linda D. April 22, 2019
What a fabulous mix of flavors, Emma. Thank you! I served this dish with Basmati. I didn't have Calabrian chile paste, so I used Sambol Olek instead. The next time I make this, I am going to change out the boiled eggs for fried. I am partial to hot versus room temperature dishes.
Emma L. April 22, 2019
Thanks, Linda!
Cheryl April 18, 2019
I ALWAYS have anchovies... but not this time. So I used canned sardines. I'll bet the anchovies are better, so can't wait to make with them. Simple to prepare. It was delicious. All cooking times seemed about right. Looking forward to leftovers.
Emma L. April 19, 2019
Mmmm sardines! Love that idea. (I bet sardine bread crumbs would be so delicious on top of pasta, too.)