The spring-summer cusp may be the peak of Austin’s year-round growing season. Tomatoes are already raging, and spring staples like new potatoes, green beans, and peppery salad greens are still going strong. On a recent trip to Boggy Creek Farm on Austin’s east side, I found an abundance of all four of those ingredients—plus spring onions and eggs from hens that feast outdoors on culled farm produce.
It didn’t take long to figure out a way to combine it all into one complete dish: a composed salad topped by a poached egg. The salad brings together the beans’ snap, the potatoes’ earthy note, and the tomatoes’ sweet/tangy jolt, united by a rich egg yolk. If you’re not into poached eggs, this salad also makes a great bed for a grilled steak or fish filet, or try it topped by some good tinned sardines
(Warning: This dish relies heavily on seasonal ingredients; I can’t vouch for it if you use supermarket product shipped cross-country.)
Composed Salad of Tomatoes, Green Beans, and New Potatoes, With a Poached Egg
Meal-sized salad for two; side dish for four.
Prep the potatoes and green beans
1/2 pound small new potatoes, sliced in half
1/2 pound green beans, stem end snapped off
Steam the potatoes until they are easily pricked with a fork; I use a simple steamer basket in a small pot with a tight-fitting lid. Set aside. Steam the green beans for no longer than a few minutes, making sure not to overcook them—they should retain a good snap. When they’re done, plunge the hot beans into a bowl of ice water to halt further cooking and preserve their color. Once the ice melts and the beans are cool, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make a dressing
1 small spring onion, white part only, peeled and coarsely chopped (you could also use green garlic or just a clove of mature garlic)
1 cherry tomato, or a slice of a regular tomato, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I have a heavy hand)
1 tablespoon vinegar, such as sherry or red wine
3 and 1/2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Vigorously crush the first four ingredients in a mortar and pestle until they become a more or less smooth paste. Add the vinegar and oil, and stir with the pestle until it’s all combined.
Compose the salad
About two ounces of peppery salad greens, like arugula or young mustard greens (I used a combination of the two)
2 good tomatoes (I used a German queen and a lemon boy yellow)
Put the greens in a bowl, add a spoonful or so of dressing, toss, and taste. Adjust by adding a bit more dressing or salt as needed, keeping in mind that the greens should be pretty lightly dressed. Divide onto two plates, loosely spreading the greens to form a bed for the rest of the ingredients.
Now slice the tomatoes, add them to the same bowl, and again, add a spoonful of dressing, toss, taste, adjust, and divide them between the plates.
Do the same process—dress, toss, taste, divide—with the green beans, and then the potatoes
Poach the eggs and finish
2-4 farm eggs (depending on appetite)
Good sea salt and fresh-ground back pepper, to taste
Poach the eggs according to J. Kenji López-Alt’s impeccable method. Divide them among the plates. Top each plate with a light dusting of sea salt and a vigorous grind of pepper, and dig in. Serve with a simple white wine or a crisp rosé.