The asparagus of Lombardy is more phallic in appearance and pulpier than that found anywhere else. It has a deep purple tinge which singles it out from other types. This dish makes a wonderfully simple lunch. The eggs can be omitted if you wish, or poached instead of fried.
Tie the asparagus into bundles with cook’s string, put it into a deep saucepan with the tips pointing upwards and pour in enough water to come three quarters of the way up the stems. Add a pinch of salt, place the lid on the saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 9 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying-pan until foaming. Break the eggs carefully into the very hot butter and fry them until just set, spooning butter over the yolks constantly. Sprinkle the eggs with a little salt.
Arrange the cooked asparagus like the spokes of a wheel, with the points facing inwards, on a warmed platter. Lay the fried eggs in the centre of the dish, pour the butter all over the asparagus tips and the eggs, scatter Parmesan over everything except the inedible ends of the asparagus and serve at once.
© 1990 Valentina Harris. All rights reserved.