Hybrid dishes run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous. For every Cronut and brookie bringing delight, there’s a ramen burger or pizza taco just waiting to make you shake your head.
The best hybrid dishes operate on several levels. They have cooking techniques that can be seamlessly merged, flavors that build on one another and overlapping dispositions that make so much sense together that the new dish becomes a classic, not a flash-in-the-pan (I’m looking at you, mufgel).
Asparagus egg-in-a-hole checks all the right boxes. At its heart, it’s a cross of two eggy bread recipes — Parmesan French toast and egg-in-a-hole — that is served with a pile of roasted asparagus to catch all the saucy yolk.
Parmesan French toast, a brilliant recipe from Nigella Lawson, is a piquant, cheesy take on the usual maple-soaked staple. For this version, I streamlined the ingredients, eliminating the paprika, mustard and Worcestershire. With the additions of runny eggs, roasted asparagus, thyme and scallions, the bread doesn’t need any extra oomph.
Then I cut holes into those Parmesan-imbued slices and cracked eggs right into them to cook. Another name for egg-in-a-hole is bird-in-a-nest, and when you see those yolks nestled cozily into the bread, you understand why.
Both French toast and egg-in-a-hole are usually fried in a pan of butter. But in order to cook the asparagus at the same time, I moved everything to a sheet pan.
This is a very straightforward recipe, yet there are a few things to keep in mind. One is to choose a crusty bread, such as a sourdough or a country loaf, something sturdy that won’t fall apart after bathing in the custard. Then cut the widest slices right from the middle to use. The goal is to fit two eggs into each slice, making the dish a bit more substantial than usual. If your bread slices are smaller, just use one egg in each.
You can substitute other quick-roasting vegetables for the asparagus. Broccoli florets, halved cherry tomatoes or brussels sprouts, or sliced mushrooms all work equally well. And if you want to double the recipe, use two sheet pans, arranging the bread on one and the asparagus on the other.
Then serve this for a light dinner, or for breakfast or brunch. Just hold the syrup. And don’t try crossing it with a bagel.
Recipe: Egg-in-a-Hole With Asparagus