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Asparagus Salad with Eggs & Jambon de Bayonne
“This impressive-looking asparagus salad recipe is actually very easy to make. After quickly boiling the asparagus, the same water is used to soft-boil the eggs. Piment d'Espelette is a sweet, spicy ground pepper from the Basque region of France. While it's not essential, it does add a subtle kick to the otherwise mellow flavors of this salad. Look for this spice at specialty stores and well-stocked markets—or substitute smoked paprika.”
1 small shallot, very thinly sliced, rings separated
6 paper-thin slices jambon de Bayonne or other cured ham, such as Serrano
¼ cup fresh small basil and/or tarragon leaves
Piment d'Espelette for garnish
¼ cup fresh tarragon
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon raw honey
¼ clove garlic
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1To prepare salad: Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and place next to the stove. Boil asparagus until bright green and just tender, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer to the ice water with a slotted spoon. Add eggs to the boiling water and cook for 6½ minutes. Meanwhile, remove the asparagus to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Transfer the eggs to the ice water and let stand until cool.
2To prepare vinaigrette: Combine tarragon, cheese, vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, pepper and salt in a blender; process until the tarragon is finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in oil through the feed tube and process until creamy.
3To serve: Cut the eggs in half. Arrange the asparagus and eggs on a large platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Top with shallot, ham, basil and/or tarragon and a sprinkle of Piment d'Espelette, if desired.
To make ahead: Refrigerate vinaigrette (Step 2) for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before using.