To us, Spring is all about dining alfresco. As the temperatures warm and the birds start chirping, we can’t wait to brunch tableside with friends. Okay, yes, here in Los Angeles it’s never really that cold, but even here brunch season doesn’t really kickoff until spring arrives.
There are a lot of amazing places to head for brunch here in Los Angeles, but we love the look, feel, and food of Gjelina. There’s always a line at this Abbot Kinney spot in Venice Beach but head there early enough on the weekend and you can snag a table in their garden. As in one of those gardens you kinda wish you could live in because even the hardest work day would be made easier by the bright, airy space.
To kick off this season’s brunching, we headed to Gjelina with a group of friends and fell head over heels for the egg dishes: one with ricotta and squash blossoms and another with a vibrant green sauce. I decided to combine those flavors here for this brunch dish that’s super simple.
When it comes to brunch, we’re always looking for recipes that will keep me out of the kitchen like pre-mixed pitchers of cocktails and baked eggs. With these eggs, you could make the puree and the asparagus and assemble them all before your guests arrive. Then just pop them in the oven and bake them up in a few minutes and voila, you’ve just won at brunch!
Asparagus Ricotta Baked Eggs with Mint-Basil Puree Recipe
- 2 cups fresh mint leaves plus a few more for garnish
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves plus a few more for garnish
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for garnish
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 small leeks root and dark green part discarded
- 1 bunch pencil-thin asparagus woody ends trimmed and discarded
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 4 large eggs
- crumbled feta cheese for garnish (optional)
- For The Mint-Basil Puree: Place herbs in a colander and pour boiling water over the herbs. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out excess water (this helps the herbs stay bright green when they’re blended). Place herbs in a blender along with olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and blend until smooth (add a few tablespoons of water if needed to help the mixture blend).
- To Prepare The Eggs: Heat oven to broil and arrange a rack 6-inches from the broiler. Finely chop light green and white part of leeks and slice asparagus on bias into 1/2-inch pieces. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Let the butter cook until it just begins to brown then add the leeks and asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Cook briefly until the leek is just wilted and asparagus is bright green, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat.
- For Cooking The Eggs: Divide the cream among the bottom of four small (about 3.5-inch) cast iron skillets or other small (3-4-inch diameter) ovenproof dishes (such as ramekins). Divide the asparagus mixture among each skillet. Add a few tablespoons of ricotta and crack an egg into each skillet. Top with a pinch of feta and a drizzle of oil. Place the skillets under the broiler until the eggs are just set, about 3 to 5 minutes. Top each skillet with a spoonful of the herb puree and serve.