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Waiting-for-Spring Salad

Get ready for sunnier days with this light catchall market salad, topped with a rich poached egg.

With a teasing warm afternoon here and there, and more than a few dreary rainy days, spring certainly feels right around the corner. Nothing celebrates the  upcoming season of asparagus! strawberries! ramps! quite like a stroll-through-the-market salad. Toss in a bit of whatever you fancy, whatever you can find, or whatever you have on hand. Fresh cheese, mushrooms, some prosciutto perhaps — and use up extra eggs by topping the salad with a perfect poached egg. Add a little balsamic and you have just the thing to tide you over until the farmer’s market is flush with the produce you have been dreaming of all winter long.

Simple Salad for two
3 ounces mixed greens
1-2 tbsp fresh chevre, or any cheese you have on hand
1/4 cup fresh oyster mushrooms, or any fresh vegetable you have on hand
2 slices proscuitto, salami, or other cured meat appropriate for salad, roughly torn or chopped into bite-size pieces
2 eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat a 10″ skillet over medium-high heat. While heating, roughly chop the mushrooms (or other vegetables) into 1/2-inch pieces. Allow the pan to become hot, and add  1 tbsp olive oil, moving the pan to completely coat the bottom of pan. Heat one minute more, then add mushrooms. Cook, allowing mushrooms to sear and develop a deep, caramelized color, stirring occasionally to cook on all sides. After 5 minutes or so, the mushrooms should start to break down and release some moisture — at this point season with salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 5 minutes more, until mushrooms are soft but not soggy. Remove pan from heat and place mushrooms on a plate to cool slightly.

2. Fill a 10″ saute pan with tall sides up with water and place over high heat. Add the 1 tsp white vinegar — this will help the egg coagulate, or form into a ball shape, when poaching. Crack one egg into a small cup or bowl. While you are waiting, fill a second metal bowl with cold water, and set aside. When the water reaches bowling, reduce to a simmer and using a whisk, make a circular motion in the pan so the water forms a swirling effect. Quickly but gently pour the egg into the spinning water, and using a spoon, continue to push the egg in the circular motion, helping the egg to form into a ball-like shape. It’s alright if some of the egg white breaks away from the egg, you can discard these later. Do not let the water bubble — if the water boils it can puncture the egg yolk —but do not turn heat off completely, just keep it at a low simmer. Allow the egg to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, continuing to use the spoon to push it in a circular motion. When the egg seems set, use the spoon to transfer it to the cold water bowl. Bring the water in the saute pan back to a boil and repeat with the second egg.

3. Rinse the spring greens in cold water and use a salad spinner to dry off and remove excess water. In a large metal bowl whisk together the 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the greens, mushrooms and prosciutto. Break up the cheese and add to bowl. Toss ingredients together. Place in two separate bowls or plates and top with one egg each. Enjoy!

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