Soft fluffy egg bake loaded with asparagus, leeks and potatoes, topped with artichokes.
Spring has moved into the Bay Area and unpacked all her suitcases full of flowering trees, daffodils, crocuses, and leafing rose bushes. She's planning to stay for awhile. We have a long tangle of wisteria that frames the front of the house, loaded with large fuzzy oval buds about to burst open with a spill of purple flowers, which I impatiently wait for every year. Spring drama on a twig.
But we're not actually there right now.
We're in the mountains with remnants of snow on the ground, and small, tight buds just starting to form on the aspens, greedily holding in all their energy. The generosity of spring hasn't quite arrived here, the mountains have their own calendar; but with all the glorious sunshine, we know it can't be far away. And it's hard to complain too much, because to say it's been a mild winter in the Sierras would be a serious understatement.
But I'm so ready for Spring. So I made this egg bake that's perfect for a spring brunch. It uses spring onion (or if you can't find them yet where you live, green onions will do just fine), asparagus and baby artichokes.
It's important to allow the sautéed onion mixture cool down before stirring into the eggs, to make sure you don't end up with scrambled eggs. It doesn't take much heat to curdle them. If you're in a hurry, though, just spoon large spoonfuls into the eggs, one at a time, whisking the egg mixture the entire time to disperse the warm onions.
There's a lot of ‘filling' to this recipe between the onions, leeks, asparagus, and potatoes. I whipped four of the egg whites to a froth just approaching stiff, and folded them into the egg mixture to create a lighter, more springy texture. If you like a denser egg bake, just mix the 12 eggs together without separating any whites out.
The entire egg bake can be made ahead up to the point where the whipped egg whites are folded in. The egg mixture can be refrigerated overnight, as can the cooked asparagus and artichokes. Ninety minutes before serving, remove everything from the refrigerator, whip the egg whites, fold them into the eggs, pour into a casserole, top with the asparagus and artichokes, and bake.
Fold 1/2 pound crabmeat into the egg mixture.
Asparagus Egg Bake
- 6 cups water
- 1 lemon
- 3 cloves of garlic smashed
- 1/2 cup white wine
- sprig of thyme
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 fresh baby artichokes or in a jar
- 1 large spring onion diced,or 4 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
- 1 large leek thinly sliced across the ribs, about 2 cups
- 1 onion finely diced, about 2 cups
- 1 pound asparagus sliced into 1" pieces
- 1 russet potato
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 Serrano pepper seeded and minced (optional)
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 8 large eggs plus 4 eggs separated
- 1 cup 1% milk
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 1 tablespoon for dusting after baking
- 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
Artichokes (If working with fresh artichokes)
- Combine the water, juice from the lemon, smashed garlic, wine, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer.
- Cut the baby artichokes in half, slice off the stem and top one inch of the artichoke. Peel the leaves off and discard until you reach light green leaves. Add the artichokes to the simmering water. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender.
- Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
- Combine the spring onion, leek, and onion in a medium bowl. Add the asparagus EXCEPT the spears. These will be placed on top of the egg bake.
- Grate the potato using a large hole grater.Add to the bowl holding the onions along with the Serrano pepper.
- Heat up the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat, and add the prepped vegetables along with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and the Herbes de Provence. Sauté uncovered for five minutes. Reduce the heat and cover, and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Cool slightly.
- When the artichokes are tender, remove from the water and add the asparagus spears to cook for 5 minutes, or until just tender.
- Whisk 8 whole eggs plus 4 yolks together in a large bowl. Add the milk and cheeses. Gradually whisk in the vegetable mixture one large spoonful at a time, unless the onion mixture is close to room temperature. If the vegetables are at room temperature, it's fine to whisk in them into the eggs all at once.
- NOTE: This recipe can be made ahead to this point, with all components wrapped and refrigerated overnight.
- Whip 4 egg whites to a medium-firm peak, and fold into the egg mixture using a large spatula. It's best to fold the egg white in one-third at a time for best results.
- Butter or oil a baking dish, and pour the eggs in. Top with the cooked artichokes and asparagus spears.
- Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack for 75 minutes, or until firm in the middle. The eggs will begin to brown after the first half hour, and I recommend covering the dish with foil at this point for the remaining baking time.
- Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.