This asparagus and fried egg panini is made from thickly sliced sourdough bread stuffed with grilled or sautéed asparagus tossed in a lemon dressing, a fried egg, Tallegio cheese, and arugula. Then the whole shebang is grilled in butter until toasty and golden brown.
This asparagus and fried egg panini is essentially a grown-up riff on grilled cheese that we’d happily indulge in every single day—morning, noon, night, and anytime in between. Creamy Taleggio cheese, a pile of peppery arugula, perfectly tender spears of asparagus, and an oozing fried egg are smooshed between slices of crusty toasted bread for a stack that can only be described as sandwich nirvana. And because there’s green stuff in it, we’ve deemed it healthy. We don’t see how this panini isn’t a win.–Angie Zoobkoff
*How To Select Asparagus
When you’re perusing asparagus for this panini recipe, whether at the farmers market or produce aisle, you want to think like Goldilocks. Not too thick. Not too thin. Juuuuuuust right. Because jumbo asparagus spears can be tricky to get perfectly tender all the way through and make for a towering sandwich that’s a little too unwieldy to eat in polite company. Conversely, pencil-thin spears easily turn to mush during cooking and will likely end up getting lost in your sandwich. So opt for spears that fall somewhere in between. If your only option is super colossally thick spears, go ahead and buy a bunch but cut each spear in half lengthwise prior to cooking.
As for how to cook the asparagus, by all means follow the instructions below or simply grab those leftover spears of grilled or roasted or steamed asparagus from supper the night before and consider it an excuse to make yourself this panini.
Asparagus and Fried Egg Panini
For the asparagus
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt plus extra as needed (1 g)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus extra as needed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves
- 8 small to medium asparagus spears* trimmed
For the panini
- 2 teaspoons mild olive or vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 slices (1/2-inch or 1-cm thick) pain au levain or sourdough bread (or a crusty boule with a thick, dense crumb)
- 4 ounces Taleggio or fontina cheese (113 g)
- 1 cup baby arugula
Cook the asparagus
- Whisk together the lemon juice and zest, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, chives, and mint in a large bowl. Add the asparagus and toss until the spears are evenly coated.
- Heat a grill pan or a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Use tongs to lift the asparagus spears from the marinade and transfer them to the hot grill pan or skillet. Cook the asparagus, turning the spears as necessary to ensure they cook evenly, until they turn golden brown on the outside and are mostly tender yet still slightly crisp on the inside, 2 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Using tongs, transfer the asparagus back to the lemon mixture and gently toss to coat. Let the asparagus stand at room temperature. (Alternatively, let the asparagus cool, transfer everything to an airtight container, and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
Assemble the panini
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and then add the olive oil or vegetable oil. Tilt the skillet to coat the bottom with oil and crack the eggs, 1 at a time, into the skillet. Lightly season the eggs with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, about 2 minutes, or, if you prefer slightly firmer yolks, carefully flip the eggs with a spatula and cook them to your liking. Transfer the eggs to a plate.
- Return the skillet to medium heat, add 1 tablespoon butter, and let it melt. Tilt the skillet to coat the bottom with butter and place 2 slices bread in the skillet. Pull apart the Taleggio into small pieces or shred the fontina and dot each slice of bread with 1/4 of the cheese, making sure to spread them evenly. Cook, uncovered, until the bottom of the bread is golden brown and crisp and the cheese starts to melt, 3 to 4 minutes. If the cheese isn’t melty by the time the bottom of the bread is done, remove the skillet from the heat, cover, and let it rest for a couple minutes. Transfer the toasted bread slices covered with cheese to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet, let it melt, and repeat with the remaining 2 slices of bread and cheese.
- To assemble the panini, divide the asparagus spears, fried eggs, and arugula between 2 pieces of the bread. Drizzle the other 2 bread slices with any remaining marinade and herbs, and sandwich everything together. Gently press the sandwiches with an offset spatula. Cut the sandwiches in half with a knife, transfer to plates, and devour immediately. This is probably a time when a knife and fork would come in handy. Not to mention lotsa napkins.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This asparagus and fried egg panini was the perfect spring bite! You’ve got crunchy asparagus, creamy Taleggio, and a bright lemon vinaigrette. What’s not to love? I used sourdough bread. It took two minutes per side for most of my asparagus. The bigger spears took an extra 2 minutes. I wanted my eggs over medium so I cooked them for 4 minutes and flipped them after 2 minutes.
This asparagus and fried egg panini was the best sandwich I’ve had for a very long time. Runny egg yolk, melty cheese, crunchy asparagus, a bright citrus dressing, what’s not to love? I skipped the mint as I have a sensitivity to it. I used a thick crusty white bread. Taleggio wasn’t available but fontina was suggested as a substitute and this worked well. My only issue was that the cheese wasn’t melted by the time the bread was browning. I’m not sure if it’s because I had to use fontina or if perhaps it would have been better to shred the cheese instead of “dotting” it. I pulled the skillet off the heat, and covered it for 2 minutes, which allowed the cheese to mostly melt before assembling the sandwich.
This panini is great. The flavors are nice and well balanced. The Taleggio is expensive but perfect for this use because it melts so quickly and well. We didn’t drizzle any extra of the marinade and it was fine. The servings probably depend on the size of bread that you choose. Our loaf (pain au levain) was small and so we fit the small spears into it with everything else pretty well.
Originally published April 06, 2018