When the world is upside down, something bright, fresh and green starts my day.  You barely need a recipe for this Asparagus, Roasted Almond and Poached Egg Breakfast Salad. I wrote it down because it is a combination that always satisfies. The recipe serves only one because my other half religiously eats his poached egg with an English muffin.

And this recipe serves as a little primer on eggs and labeling.

Buying Eggs

Poaching requires the best eggs you can find. For those fortunate enough to live near a farm or a neighbor with a hen house, seek out those eggs. Case closed.  (Each week at the Chester Sunday Market, David Brown blesses us with the best eggs on the planet.) Otherwise, you need a semiotics degree to decipher egg labels. The terms “pasture-raised” and “humane” are not regulated. “Natural” and “organic” only applies to the feed used to nourish the birds. Growth hormones have been banned since the 1950’s.

First, look for such terms as “free-range” and “cage-free” on the egg carton. The FDA regulates these terms although they indicate little about how much access to natural air and forage the chickens are given. Then look to see if the eggs are from a regional egg producer. And better still, seek out eggs with the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label. To use this term on its label, the farm must adhere to stringent requirements. When you buy eggs marked Certified Humane Raised and Handled®, picture chickens in coops, flapping their wings and pecking for insects. Happy Chooks as the Aussies say.

Something else to keep in mind is the size of the eggs you buy. For poached, fried, scrambled eggs or omelets, size doesn’t really matter.  But it will in a cake batter. Take a look at the difference in size between a jumbo egg from Solter Farms and a large egg from Egg-Land’s Best in the photo below. There will be a noticeable difference in a cake made with those jumbo eggs.

Jumbo and Large Eggs

Many backyard egg farmers do not have enough chickens to be able to sort their eggs into regulated sizes.  What do you do? Crack and weigh irregularly sized eggs and measure what you need for your recipe. For reference, a shelled large egg weighs approximately 1 1/2 ounces. Most recipes are based on large eggs unless specified.

We poach eggs in a gentle whirlpool of simmering water. When you slide the cracked egg into the water, the egg white collects around the yolk into a neat bundle.  You could also make a soft-boiled egg and serve that on top of your greens.

The only other essential for this Asparagus, Roasted Almond and Poached Egg Breakfast Salad? Nicely toasted large almonds.  They add crunch and a rich counterpoint to the greens.

Kitchen Notebook:

To learn more about egg labeling terminology, visit the Animal Legal Defense Fund website, which covers this topic in depth.

Where we live, fresh eggs can be purchased on our street, at a local liquor store and from a farm two towns away.  Shelves of our local IGA grocery store carry locally raised eggs from several farms.  I bet if you look, you’ll find sources near you too.

Asparagus, Roasted Almond and Poached Egg Breakfast Salad

Yield: 1 Serving

Asparagus, Roasted Almond and Poached Egg Breakfast Salad


Handful mixed greens, baby green and red romaine if available

Lemon juice

Quality olive oil

3 spears of asparagus, cooked

Fresh chopped chives, optional

Whole roasted almonds, chopped coarse

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 large egg


  1. Bring a small pot full of water to a boil.
  2. Toss the greens in a bowl with some lemon juice and olive oil, just enough to lightly moisten the leaves.
  3. Arrange the greens on a plate in a nice pile. Cut the asparagus spears into 2-inch pieces and tuck them into the greens. Add fresh chopped chives if using. Scatter the almonds on the greens.
  4. Add the vinegar to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to a low boil. Stir the water with a spoon to create a whirlpool. Crack the egg into a small cup. Gently slide the egg into the pot of water. Gently stir the water so that the egg gathers in the center of the pot. Cook the egg for 3 to 4 minutes until as firm as you like it.
  5. Scoop the egg out of the water with a slotted spoon. Hold the spoon over a clean towel to drain. Plop the egg on the salad and serve.