The snow has all but melted, dripping in steady streams of water off the roof, seeping into the dried grass. Small patches of mud dot the edges of the yard where foot traffic has worn away the layers of sod, and for a few moments the world seems brown.
Then suddenly, seemingly overnight, little bits of green start to fleck the crisp yard, and the smallest buds appear on the apple trees, pushing out from fresh nubs on the still bare branches. The sun shines freely, until one day you look outside and see that green has returned.
Spring is the time of year for brunches. There is Easter, the holiday of the egg, which is quickly followed by Mother’s Day, and there are plenty of bridal showers in preparation for everyone’s summer weddings.
I try to balance my heavy prep and planning recipes with those that are quick and easy and can be pulled out at a moment’s notice. Better yet, I try to prepare dishes that are easy enough for my kids to manage with little to no intervention and assistance from yours truly. This makes them ideal candidates for impromptu Sunday brunches or post-service meals, stress-free standbys, and kids-cook Mother’s Day treats.
This recipe is a great one to try with little ones because there is little prep work and plenty of kid-friendly steps for children of all ages. The shells can be baked ahead or while you prep the other ingredients, and then you’re ready to assemble and bake.
Have your kids:
1. Snap the asparagus ends. Show them how to tell where the asparagus starts to get weak and how to snap the woody end from the tender head.
2. Brush the asparagus with oil. Provide a pastry brush and small dish of oil and let them coat the asparagus just like painting a picture.
3. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the asparagus and distribute between the pastry cups.
4. School-age children love cracking eggs. Have them crack one into the measuring cup and then pour it into its pastry shell home.
5. Pull thyme from the stems and sprinkle it over the tops of the eggs.
These eggs get the royal treatment. They are baked in a flaky pastry shell along with sharp Parmesan and herbs. The asparagus gets added as a bonus, rounding out the dish and providing a fresh and vibrant backdrop for our egg baskets. Bake these just until the tops are set for runnier yolks, and leave them in a few minutes more if you prefer your yolk set.
Parmesan and Thyme Pastry Baked Eggs with Asparagus
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
- 1 package puff pastry shells (6 shells)
- 1 1/2 pounds (1 large bunch) asparagus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese
- 6 eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 425º F. Place the frozen pastry shells top side up on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes until they are puffed and crisp, but not yet cooked through and golden brown. Remove from the oven.
- While the shells are cooking, you can prep the asparagus by snapping the ends, laying it out on a baking sheet, and brushing it with oil.
- Carefully cut the tops and centers from the puffed shells. Roughly grate the Parmesan cheese. Place half over the oiled asparagus. Distribute the remaining half between the six pastry shells.
- One at a time, crack an egg into a small measuring cup and then pour it into a baked pastry shell. Repeat until all the shells are full. Sprinkle thyme over the raw eggs. Lightly season both the eggs and the asparagus with salt and pepper.
- Place the asparagus and the shells back into the oven. Reduce the heat to 375ºF and bake for 12-15 minutes, just until eggs are set. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Photo credit: Shaina Olmanson