It's been above 80˚F each day since Saturday here in New York. Let me tell you, this hyper-Spring weather feels so good and is making everyone happy and pushing us outside as much as possible. In my moments not working, I've been readying my patio garden, buying gorgeous tulips and perusing the Farmer's Markets. The tender spring lettuces and micro-greens are out and one of my favorites is the star of this dish. Here's my gorgeous Spring "Mizuna Salad with Poached Egg, Crispy Leeks and Tarragon Vinaigrette".
Now, I know many of you believe that salads are a cook's little break. But I'm an expert in salads and I firmly believe that if you put as much thought and care into the flavors of your salads as you do main dishes you'll never get bored of salads again. And, you won't feel like it's just a warm-up for the entree. If in the case of a salad like this you involve a little cooking too -- your results will be spectacular. Get the freshest, best ingredients you can find. Take your time and do the techniques properly. You'll be rewarded with a fresh and delicious salad with a perfectly poached egg that acts as an ooey, gooey condiment and delicately crisp leeks that add more interesting flavor and texture. It's a beautiful dish. Still simple despite several steps and a real treat whether it's a Wednesday lunch or an opening course for a 5-course meal. Mizuna is like a very delicate, slightly peppery cross between mustard and arugula. You can substitute mache, watercress or tatsoi. Just make sure the green you pick has lots of flavor, nutrients and is young and tender.
Have fun and Happy Spring!
3 c. fresh mizuna or other tender young lettuce greens
1 vine-ripened tomato, medium dice
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. fresh leeks, purged of dirt and finely sliced
2 fresh eggs
1 T. fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
2 T. grapeseed oil
1 large pinch kosher salt
6-8 grinds fresh black pepper
shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1. Wash and spin dry the mizuna. Cut tomato into medium dice or use small grape tomatoes, cut in half. Place the mizuna and tomato in a medium bowl.
2. Heat a small non-stick skillet on the stovetop and add the olive oil. When shimmering, add the leeks and saute on medium-high heat until brown and crispy. You want them crunchy and brown, not soft so keep going until they're just short of burned. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel to cool.
3. Add about 4 cups of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a very hot steaming, but just below a simmer. You don't want to see bubbles on the surface of the water or any boiling, but just below. It should be about the temperature you'd use to steep tea. Hot enough to burn you but not hot enough to boil. Crack each egg into a single small cup or prep bowl.
4. Make the vinaigrette while waiting for the water to come to the right temperature. Combine the chopped tarragon, sherry vinegar, kosher salt and black pepper in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil with one hand while whisking vigorously with the other. The dressing should begin to emulsify and get thick as you're whisking. Drizzle over the greens and tomato and toss thoroughly.
5. Return your attention to the water and when super hot and steaming, gently pour one egg into the water. Take a rubber spatula and gently fold some of the rapidly spreading egg white over and around the yolk. Be careful not to puncture the yolk. Leave it alone now for exactly 1 minute 30 seconds (at or near sea level) and about 2 minutes if at altitude. You are aiming for a very soft yolk, with the whites just cooked. At the end of your time, take a large slotted spoon and scoop under the entire egg, lifting from the water. Set egg on a slippery plate or surface and do the other egg exactly the same way.
6. Spoon the mizuna and tomato onto plates and shave some parmigiano-reggiano over the greens. Gently slide a poached egg onto each plate in the center of the greens. Sprinkle with the crispy leeks and serve immediately.
7. Each guest should gently break the yolk with a fork to release the gooey yolk over the salad.