By Veronica LePinske. I can't wait for spring to arrive. Blisteringly cold temperatures and sunless grey days have me wishing for an early spring. Though warm, sunny days and farmer's markets full of colorful produce seem far away, if you're craving a taste of spring you don't have to wait.
This is one of my favorite classic French country dishes and it's so easy to make, perfect for a weeknight dinner but wonderful for lunch or even breakfast. I love the classic combination of creamy poached eggs and crisp pancetta, which are nicely complemented with tangy dijon vinaigrette. I add a few slices of toasted baguette on the side to dip in the creamy egg yolk.
- For the salad:
- 1 head of frisée (light green leaves only)
- 1 small bunch of fresh spinach
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, or chives)
- 4 thin slices baguette (toasted and rubbed with a garlic clove)
- 2 large or extra-large eggs
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 4 slices pancetta (or substitute bacon)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (for frying pancetta)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons champagne, sherry or red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt to taste
- Combine the lettuce and herbs in a large bowl and set aside. Lightly brush baguette slices with olive oil and toast the sliced baguette at 400'F for 4 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and rub one side of each baguette toast with a clove of garlic, set aside.
- For the vinaigrette dressing, heat a small sauté pan on medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and cook until crispy, about 3-5 minutes. Remove pancetta, reserving the fat. While pan is still hot, whisk in the vinegar, salt, mustard and garlic. Cover pan and set aside.
- For the poached eggs, fill a small saucepan with about 3" of water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar to the water. Crack one egg at a time into a small, shallow bowl, then gently swirl the simmering water with a spoon. This will create a funnel that will wrap the egg white around the yolk, keeping it together. Gently slip one of the eggs into the center of the swirling water. Poach for 3-5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean dish towel or paper towel being gentle so as not to puncture the yolk. Poaching takes practice, but this technique is one of the more foolproof I've tried.
- Divide lettuce among two bowls. Gently place an egg in the center of each, drizzle with warm dressing and garnish with crispy pancetta and two slices of baguette. Finish with freshly cracked pepper and serve immediately.