Serves: Makes 4 to 8 servings
- 4 large eggs
- ½ pound asparagus
- 1 cup ice cubes
- Coarse salt
- ½ red onion
- 1 tablespoon packed fresh tarragon leaves, plus 4 small sprigs, for garnish
- 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon or regular lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 Bibb or other small lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
- 10 small plum tomatoes, quartered, for garnish
Procedures:This recipe, while not traditionally Italian, illustrates the versatility of the mezzaluna. It is used to chop every element: the hard-cooked eggs, the asparagus, and the tarragon. The salad, which can be served as a first course or side dish, is dressed with Meyer lemon–infused olive oil. If you don’t live where Meyer lemons grow, a bottle of Meyer lemon infused olive oil is the next best thing. The lemons, which are especially fragrant, juicy, and sweet, are thought to be a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange.
Put the eggs in a 2-quart saucepan and add cold water to cover. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes. Pour off the hot water, and rinse the eggs with cold water until they are cool. Crack the shells against the sides of the pan, and let the eggs stand in the water for 10 minutes. Drain the eggs, peel, and set aside.
While the eggs are standing, trim the tough stem ends from the asparagus, and use a serrated peeler to remove the scales from the lower section of the stalks. Fill a wide bowl with water and add the ice cubes. Pour water to a depth of 1 inch into a 3- quart sauté pan or a deep skillet and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Lift the asparagus from the water with tongs and plunge into the iced water. Let stand for 2 minutes and drain.
Two at a time, coarsely chop the eggs with the mezzaluna on a mezzaluna cutting board or a standard cutting board and transfer to a large bowl. Coarsely chop the onion and add to the bowl with the eggs. Alternatively, chop the eggs and the onion with a chef's knife.
Pat the asparagus dry with paper towels. Place the spears a few at a time on the cutting board and cut into randomly sized ¼ to 1-inch slices with the mezzaluna. Add to the eggs. Put the tarragon leaves on the board, chop finely, and add to the eggs. Or, cut the asparagus and the tarragon with the chef's knife.
Drizzle the eggs and asparagus with the olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and a grinding of pepper. Using a rubber spatula, fold gently to blend.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on individual plates or a platter and spoon the salad on top. Garnish with the tomatoes and tarragon sprigs.