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A fancy lunch: Asparagus with a Poached Egg and Vanilla-Mint Vinaigrette

asparagus with poached egg

This isn’t the kind of thing that I usually have for lunch, believe me. The above meal is akin to what I call “fancy” food, ie. food that, while delicious, is best left to French bistros and particularly ambitious food bloggers, rather than attempted by yourself, at home.

After seeing this post over at La Tartine Gourmande last week, I was more than a little intrigued by the combination of spring vegetables, soft-boiled eggs and (most importantly) a vanilla-fragranced vinaigrette. Now, Béa has skills I could never hope to imitate. Her photography is, simply put, astounding, and her recipes never fail to surprise and delight. I view her blog with a mixture of awe and admiration. This is food, I’d always thought, best left to the professionals. So at first glance, I was content to let Béa keep her fancy, photogenic food and carry on with my own, more tupperware-friendly lunches.

But I couldn’t seem to get this dish out of my mind. The dressing, specifically. I kept wondering, imagining; what on earth would a vanilla vinaigrette taste like? So I decided to put my inhibitions aside, and for once, force myself out of my lunch comfort zone. 


I ended up adapting this because I didn’t have on hand everything needed to make Béa’s recipe. No leeks, no sugar snap peas, not even a vanilla pod in the cupboard. I figured, however, that I could approximate the idea of the dish with what I had, and perhaps make it somewhat less fancy in the process. 

So, the medley of spring vegetables was nixed in favour of a simple bunch of asparagus, and the vanilla bean (I really should keep them around, but they’re so pricey!) made way for 1/2 teaspoon of extract. Instead of soft-boiling my egg I poached it, if only because it’s faster, and equally delicious.

The end result was a resounding success. While I’m not sure I’ll be lunching in this kind of style again anytime soon, it made for a nice break from the ordinary. Once I’d made the vinaigrette, I realised how easy and versatile it actually is. This could easily be used on salads, green vegetables, or even fish to a great result. After all, it probably doesn’t hurt to have the odd bit of frivolity in our lives, or our lunches.

asparagus with a broken poached egg

  • Asparagus Spears with a Poached Egg and Vanilla-Mint Vinaigrette
  • adapted from this recipe from La Tartine Gourmande
  • serves one
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
    1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
    1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint
    sea salt and black pepper to taste 
    8 asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off
    1 large egg
  • 1. In a small bowl, mix together the  olive oil, vinegar, vanilla and mint. Add a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside. 

    2. Cook the asparagus one of two ways: steam it gently over boiling water for approximately 5 minutes, until tender, or place in a shallow dish, pour boiling water over, and let sit for 5 minutes, until tender. Drain, set on plate and drizzle most of the vinaigrette over. 

    3. In a small saucepan, bring 2″ of water to a gentle simmer. Crack the egg into a small bowl, and gently slide it into the water. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes, until the white is opaque. Remove with a slotted spoon, trim edges if necessary, and place on top of the asparagus. Drizzle the rest of the vinaigrette on top. 


  1. Mum says:

    Wonderful picture and that is a real poached egg, like Grandma used to make in the fifties.


  2. Ele says:

    Ha, what makes a poached egg “real”, Mum? I guess those silicone cup things they have now are cheating a bit…

  3. Larissa says:

    Vanilla in savoury dishes is pretty good but in moderation of course. I had a salmon recently with a vanilla bean herb sauce…tasty, but it’s a fine line, a little too much vanilla and you’ve ruined it all.
    Your pictures are great, you could always do food photography :)

  4. Ele says:

    I’d never come across it before, Larissa. Of course I don’t have your sophisticated palate- fancy homemade salads vs. microwave burritos come to mind ;)

    Vanilla bean and herbs sounds SO good!