Asparagus Timballo

Timballo di Asparagi

Recipe from Pamela Sheldon Johns

This is a wonderful appetizer or brunch dish. It is essentially a coddled egg on top of asparagus purée. The asparagus purée remains creamy and blends with the egg yolk for a delicious sensation. If you prefer a thicker asparagus purée, add 2 egg yolks to the mixture before you pour it into the ramekins.


Extra-virgin olive oil and approx ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for the ramekins

1 bunch asparagus

¼ cup whole milk (or, if you insist, cream)

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

salt and pepper to taste

6 eggs


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly oil (I like the misto sprayer that I can put my own olive oil in) six ramekins and dust generously with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Place in a baking dish and set aside.


Cut the asparagus into three parts: the ugly tough root that you will compost; the top 4 inches of the asparagus; and the middle part (now known as the butts).  Cook the butts in boiling salted water until very tender, around 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus. Drain and cool. Add the milk and ¼ cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and purée. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Divide this mixture evenly between the prepared ramekins. Crack an egg into each ramekin on top of the purée. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top of each egg to keep it from drying out as it cooks.


Add hot water to the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins and place in the preheated oven. Bake until you can see that the egg white is set (the yolk should still be runny), about 18-22 minutes. If you want a hard yolk, bake for about 22-28 minutes.


While the ramekins are baking, blanch the asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.


Remove the ramekins from the oven. Place the ramekins on individual serving plates. Garnish with the asparagus tips and serve at once.


Variation for a savory pudding: If your guests don’t love the fabulous sensation of a soft egg yolk, blend the eggs into the asparagus purée before distributing among the ramekins. Cooking time will be slightly longer, about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.