I’d like to discuss so much with you in regards to the perfect sandwich. One might think that there isn’t much to it, other than a few common ingredients here and there, but they’re wrong. There’s so much more to it than a few slices of bread and some filling in between. The bread needs to be hearty and toasted. I’m the kind of the guy that likes my bread toasted to the point where it can pass as a lethal weapon. Always have been, ever since I was a little boy. It was so bad that I wouldn’t even eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if my mamma didn’t toast the bread for me. I’d throw the sandwich back in her face if it wasn’t (that didn’t really happen, although now she’ll claim that it did, just you watch). Of course the perfect sandwich has got to have cheese of some kind. No exception. It doesn’t matter what kind of cheese, I don’t discriminate, just as long as there is cheese involved. And lots of it. The ultimate sandwich needs meat, also. I’m not a vegetarian and although sometimes I find it necessary to pretend to be (don’t ask), when it comes to a sandwich, all bets are off. Something salty and cured is definitely a must. Because my dream sandwich involves lots of bread and cheese and cured meat, it needs to have a vegetable of some sort, you know, to pass itself off as “healthy.” Whatever is in season will do, don’t worry about it. It’s really just so that my mom and doctor won’t complain. See guys? I’m eating my veggies! I love vegetables!
So now that we have all that down, the sandwich to end all sandwiches is coming together. Before we can proceed to devouring said sandwich, however, it needs to have a crunch factor of some sort. I’m all about different textures when it comes to eating. I don’t like to feel like I’m eating baby food, where everything is sort of one note, that one note being mush. I’d say to throw some potato chips directly into the sandwich itself, but I’m trying to be classy here. I sometimes forget that I’m not ten years old anymore and people expect you to eat your chips on the side, not on the inside. All these rules, I can’t seem to keep up. So we’ll classify this sandwich making business up a bit by adding a nut of some sort. Walnuts will do. Pine nuts would be great, sure, but what am I made of money?!
Once you have all these different components together, you can begin to assemble the World’s Best Sandwich. Or Jon’s Ultimate Sammie if you’d like. Or maybe Move Over Subway Because You Ain’t Got Nothing On Us? Okay, perhaps not the last one, I’m still working on the title, bear with me. So here we are making delicious sandwiches like our lives depend on it, because it’s a serious task. One that requires so much more than we originally anticipated. We’re sandwich making masters. Pros. We got this. We’re going to make them open-faced and put an egg on top because we all know that everything is better with an egg on top. Hello, that’s why there’s a saying going around, “put an egg on top.” So now that we know how to make the perfect sandwich, all that’s left to do is to go out and celebrate this feat by making these perfect sandwiches and eating ALL of them until we can’t eat anymore. That’s the only way I like to eat my sandwiches if I’m being honest.
I tried really hard to come up with a “super-easy-to-make-and-easy-to-put-together-recipe” for you because I didn’t want you to worry about working too hard for a delicious lunch or healthy dinner. I wanted something that would get you excited to get into the kitchen and cook. Something you could do with your eyes closed. But don’t close your eyes because you could get seriously burned or cut or something. That would be too dangerous. Let’s keep those eyes open folks while we cook, okay?
The first thing we’re going to do is toast some bread. We need to get this bread super crunchy and golden brown. I’m using large slices of a French baguette. Lay them out onto a baking sheet, in a single layer, and brush them on both sides with olive oil.
Bake the bread in a preheated 350º F oven for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Be sure to flip them halfway through baking, to ensure even browning.
**Tip: I can’t begin to tell you how much I LOVE crunchy and crispy bread. Almost to the point where it’s verging on burnt. I know, I’m weird. So with that being said, I tend to over-toast my bread. Bake it for as long or as little as you’d like, depending on your brownness/crispiness preference.**
Remove the bread from the oven and set it off to the side. You can forget about it until later.
Let’s turn our attention now to the asparagus. Clean and trim the asparagus and lay it out onto a baking sheet, in a single layer.
**Tip: You can trim the asparagus by holding one on each end and bending it until it snaps. The asparagus will snap at the bottom where it’s supposed to be trimmed. Then align the rest of the asparagus and cut them down at the same point. It’s an easy trick to get them all trimmed at once! Or it’s an easy trick that I just confused you with by trying to explain it in words. It’s a 50/50 chance, here.**
We’re going to roast these in a hot oven, for a short period of time. We want to get them crispy but also somewhat tender. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Just eyeball each and sprinkle them on top. You don’t really have to measure the salt and pepper. There’s no exact science behind it. A pinch here and a pinch there.
Roast in a 375º F oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Give the pan a gently shake halfway through to rotate the asparagus somewhat. Roast until they are bright green, tender and a little crispy.
Remove the asparagus from the oven and set them off to the side to cool for a bit. In the meantime, let’s get the ricotta ready.
Now, we’re not making our own ricotta cheese here. Who are we, Martha Stewart? No no no. We don’t have that kind of time. Plus it’s only a small component of the dish, and frankly it’s not worth all of the hassle of making your own cheese. SO we’re using store bought. BUT we’re going to jazz up that store bought ricotta a bit because we want people to think we’re fancy. That’s the only goal in life that matters (I kid).
To the ricotta add, freshly grated lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a bit of grated fresh garlic. Give it a good stir to completely incorporate and then set it off to the side to sit for a bit so that the flavors marinate as much as possible.
Okay so here comes the hardest part to this recipe. I lied earlier when I said that this was super easy and stress-free. It’s got a little bit of a difficult part to it. We’re going to poach some eggs to put on top. I don’t know about you, but when I first poached an egg for the first time, I was scared. I had nightmares the night before. Then I quickly realized it’s super easy and I was able to sleep again.
**Tip: Poaching eggs can be a little daunting but really, it can be quite easy, and lots of fun. But if you’re put off by the idea of poaching eggs yourself, then you can just place a fried egg on top, or if you’re not into the whole egg thing, then you can easily omit it, but I do have to warn you that you’ll be missing out on something delicious!**
So bring a largish/wide-ish skillet or pot of water up to a boil. Not a rapid boil, more like a heavy simmer. Then you’re going to add the salt and some white vinegar.
**Note: The white vinegar is crucial when poaching eggs because it helps to hold the egg together and get all poachy.**
Bring it back up to a high simmer.
Then you’re going to create a whirlwind or a vortex in the water. “What?! You’re talking crazy Jonathan!” I know that sounds off, but it’s important. Stir the water somewhat rapidly in one direction to create like a whirlpool in the water. That helps the egg whites from dissipating throughout the water. Crack one egg into a small bowl or ramekin, then carefully lower the egg into the whirlpool water.
**Note: Depending on the size of your pot, you might have to cook the eggs in batches.**
So it’s going to look really weird but don’t worry. Just believe in yourself. I believe in you! Turn off the heat, put a lid on it and cook the eggs covered for about 3 minutes (or less if you like a really runny yolk).
If you’re going to cook the eggs in batches, carefully lift out the poached eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon. Transfer them to a plate, cook the rest in the same way, and then just reheat the others by placing them back into the hot water to rewarm.
Okay, it’s time to assemble our sandwiches. These are going to be open-faced, so we only need one slice of bread per serving. If you want to rewarm your toast you can do so by placing them back in the oven for a few seconds until warm.
Spread the bread with a generous amount of our lemon garlic ricotta.
Next thing is the prosciutto, lay a couple of slices on top of the ricotta, as much as you’d like. I happen to really love prosciutto especially with asparagus. I think they go really well together. After that, let’s lay a few spears of asparagus on top (again, if you’d like to rewarm the asparagus, just pop it back into the oven). The best part about this sandwich though, is that you can assemble it and eat it at room temperature. The components don’t have to be extremely hot.
So we have the super crunchy toast on the bottom, the creamy ricotta, the salty prosciutto, the tender asparagus, I think it needs another crunch factor of some sort. So I’m sprinkling the sandwiches with a few walnuts. You can skip this if you have a nut allergy or just don’t think walnuts go well here….you’re wrong. I’ll have you know they’re super delicious in this sandwich, thank you very much!
Then finish off the sandwiches with a poached egg on top of each.
The last thing we’re going to do is drizzle the sandwiches with some extra-virgin olive oil, and season the tops with a bit of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. I think it makes the sandwiches look really nice, but also it gives it that final added touch of flavor. Food is all about flavor. I want you to really enjoy this sandwich.
So earlier I said that one is enough for a single serving, well I was wrong. I needed two halves because I scarfed down the first one in little to no time at all and then I was like, “Where did my sandwich go?!?” So I had to, just had to, eat another one because I didn’t have enough time to really appreciate all of the flavors and textures. After the second one I was content and I gotta tell you, that this might be my new favorite sandwich. Well, as of right now that is. Who knows what my favorite will be later on. I’ll you posted, but in the meantime, let’s be content in knowing that this here roasted asparagus sandwich with a poached egg on top is my new favorite.
This is a light weeknight meal. It takes no time at all to put together so it’s perfect for those nights when you come home from work dead tired and don’t really feel like cooking a big ol’ elaborate meal for dinner. Sometimes we just don’t have the strength or energy to spend hours in the kitchen after we’ve spent hours at work slaving away making that money. You can even prepare some of the components beforehand. Like, mix together the lemon ricotta and keep it in the fridge until ready to use. Roast the asparagus the night before and just rewarm it in the oven before assembling. Toast the bread in your toaster if you want a quick toast. Then on the day you’re going to eat it, you can just cook the eggs, rewarm everything and assemble the sandwiches.
I prefer when the eggs aren’t fully poached to complete doneness. I like a runny yolk so that you can break into it and the yolk just oozes out onto the sandwich itself. The toast on the bottom will soak up the delicious yolk. One of my favorite things for breakfast actually, is simple so simple like over-easy eggs broken with some pieces of toast to mop up all of the yolk. I don’t think there’s anything better than that.
If you don’t want to make these open-faced and would like to sandwich it with two pieces of bread instead, you can totally do that. I wouldn’t say anything. Just spread both slices of bread with some ricotta and mush the sandwich together. I think that would be a great idea. I’m all for more bread. I think there’s something cool about how it looks all open with the poached egg on top. It makes it look fancier than it actually is. This sandwich will make you look like a rockstar so I think you need to serve it as a starter at your next big party or gathering. Especially one where you want to impress some of your friends, or family or coworkers or special someones. I don’t know if you’ll get the promotion or that proposal you’ve been wanting, but one thing is for you, you’ll definitely fall in love with this sandwiches, and after all, that’s the best kind of love. Sandwich love.
- 4 to 6 large slices french baguette or sourdough
- 2 pounds fresh asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups ricotta
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 8 to 12 slices prosciutto
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 4 to 6 large eggs
- ½ cup walnuts
- Preheat oven to 375º F. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet, on a single layer. Brush both sides liberally with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Toss to combine and evenly coat. Roast for about 10 to 15 minutes, giving them a gentle toss about halfway through, or until tender and somewhat crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, grated garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Stir until smooth. Set off to the side.
- Bring a large skillet or pot to a simmer. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons white vinegar. Bring back to a simmer. Crack the eggs into individual cups or ramekins. Stir the water rapidly, creating a whirlpool, and carefully drop in the eggs, one at a time. Turn off the heat and cover the pot or skillet. Allow the eggs to cook for about 3 minutes covered. Carefully remove each with a slotted spoon.
- To assemble the sandwiches, spread some ricotta on each slice of toasted bread. Top with 2 slices of prosciutto on each half and with a few spears of the roasted asparagus. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Top with a poached egg on each sandwich half. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season lightly with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
- 4 to 6 servings