The Joy of Eggs
Eggs are far more than just weekend breakfast fare. They can be a centerpiece to any meal.
Talk about luxurious! An egg is a delicacy indeed, a little bit of richness that can enhance many different meals. Let’s celebrate this homespun staple found in almost everyone’s fridge — often a forgotten way to turn a weekday meal into a feast.
Eggs are not just an ingredient in a batter or a treat for a weekend breakfast. They’re a fantastic way to enhance the taste of many dishes, to enrich sauces and add more protein to our healthy meals. There’s a lot of luscious texture, a lot of flavor and a lot of pleasure in a simple egg.
What’s more, one large egg is only 2 PointsPlus® values — yet it can morph a salad into a main course, make a soup even richer and turn a meal into a feast.
So let’s nail down some ways to get this nutrition powerhouse onto our plates.
Eggs for dinner — 3 new ways
This old-fashioned British technique (pronounced shurred) involves baking eggs in small, oven-safe ramekins or custard cups. However, the oven’s ambient heat can toughen the whites. The answer is a little protection: a tablespoon of milk in each cup before the egg is cracked inside. Also add some snips of fresh herbs for flavor, then bake the eggs in those cups on a sheet tray in a preheated 350°F oven for 9 to 12 minutes, depending on how firm you like the yolks.
Talk about luxury! In this Roman favorite, an egg is baked right on top of a thin-crust pie. Build the pizza as you normally would, but use less cheese because of the egg’s richness — just a little tomato sauce, some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and perhaps some sliced or diced veggies. Right before you slip the pie into a blazing oven, crack an egg or two right on top.
Baked in salsa
Pour a layer of purchased salsa into a baking dish, then form little wells or cups to hold the eggs. Crack them into these indentations, then bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
Here’s a great tip: Salt can toughen egg whites. Always salt eggs after they’re cooked, not before.
|Sides into mains
Turn something run-of-the-mill into a main course by putting a poached or fried egg on top. You don’t even need oil in the dressing because the egg yolk, once split open, will mix with a little vinegar on the greens to make a lovely dressing. One tip: Use hearty greens to cut through the sweet richness of the egg: radicchio, endive, frisée, Romaine or arugula. (Steer clear of soft greens like Boston or Bibb lettuces.)
Put a poached or fried egg on top of steamed or sautéed broccoli rabe, escarole, kale, collard greens, turnip greens or chard. Make sure you drain any excess liquid from the greens — and season them with chili-pepper flakes and a drizzle of vinegar.
|Lentils & grains
A poached egg is a treat on top of a wheat-berry, quinoa, farro or lentil salad, any of them laced with diced carrots, celery, radishes or other veggies. Use little to no oil in these dishes so that the egg yolk brings all the richness it can.
Put together a platter of grilled zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, fennel and/or yellow squash. Give them a sprinkle of salt and pepper along with a generous drizzle of vinegar. Crumble a hard-boiled egg over the top for texture, flavor and protein.
Scramble an egg in a wok, then add cooked rice and lots of aromatics like scallions and ginger. You’ve just morphed a side dish into a meal! Or how’s this? In the Korean dish bibimbop, a poached or fried egg is placed over hot rice and vegetables, along with chili paste and other aromatics.
Traditionally, a fried or poached egg is slipped on top of hash to make a filling meal. Either sort of egg is also a great way to top a baked potato. Add some salsa and you’ve got a wonderful dinner. Or top oven-roasted potatoes, stocked with lots of herbs and cracked black pepper, with a poached egg for a weeknight meal of pure bliss.
No need for bacon. Hard-boiled egg will give you all the protein you need — along with diced avocado and tomato. Dice the egg on top — and you even need less blue-cheese dressing to have a rich, satisfying meal.
This French classic is made with string beans, potatoes, canned tuna, olives and chopped hard-boiled egg. The only other thing it needs? A squeeze of lemon juice on top.
The perfect hard-boiled egg
For either salad, here’s how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg. Place cold eggs (unpeeled) in a large saucepan and add enough cool water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute — exactly. Cover the pot, take it off the heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Drain, then run the eggs under cool water before peeling immediately. The yolks should be set but still creamy.
- Turn any clear soup or bouillon into an egg-drop soup. Once the soup is finished, turn off the heat — then slowly drizzle in 1 or 2 well-beaten eggs from a medium height. Stir slowly the moment the first bits of egg hit the soup — then continue stirring slowly in one direction only for a couple minutes until the eggs form long, tender strands.
- Enhance a vegetable or greens soup with a whole egg. When the soup is done and you’re ready to serve it, turn the heat down as low as possible. Crack as many eggs as desired into small custard cups or teacups, then slip them one at a time into the soup, dropping them in different locations around the pot. Do not touch, stir or disturb the soup for 5 minutes. Gently scoop up the poached eggs with a large spoon and place them in serving bowls before ladling the hot soup on top. The yolks will almost melt into gorgeous richness into the soup.
Authentic pasta carbonara is never made with cream. Instead, well-beaten eggs are stirred with a little of the hot pasta water, then tossed with the cooked pasta in a skillet over very low heat along with some diced ham or bacon, some minced chives (or onions) and some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. One trick: Stir quickly over very low heat so the eggs don’t scramble but transform into a decadent, satiny sauce, no cream in sight.
About the frisée salad
This is a healthy take on a French bistro classic: a salad of slightly bitter frisée lettuce, laced with Canadian bacon and topped with a poached egg. It’s a great lunch or dinner — and a fine way to make eggs the centerpiece of the plate. One note: Frisée is a feathery, spindly green, often white at the root, sold as small, dense heads in the produce section of almost all supermarkets. The lighter the shade of green, the less bitter the frisée.
Frisée Salad with Poached Egg and Canadian Bacon
Makes 4 servings
PointsPlus® value | 5 per serving
- 6 cups torn frisée leaves, cleaned and dried
- Cooking spray
- 4 oz Canadian bacon, chopped
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced into rings
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 4 large eggs
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- Place the frisée in a large bowl; set aside
- Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add the Canadian bacon and cook until crisp, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the frisée.
- Place the skillet back over medium heat and swirl in the olive oil. Add the shallots; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce; scrape up any browned bits in the skillet for a few seconds. Pour in the vinegar; bring to a full simmer.
- Pour this shallot-laced dressing over the frisée and Canadian bacon, scraping everything out of the skillet and into the bowl. Toss well and divide among 4 plates.
- Fill a large high-sided skillet or sauteuse pan halfway with water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low so the water barely simmers. Crack an egg into a small ramekin or custard cup, then slip the egg into the water. Repeat that with the other 3 eggs in separate spots in the water. Cook for 5 minutes undisturbed. Pick up 1 poached egg at a time with a slotted spoon, draining off any excess water and set it on top of a salad. Sprinkle the salads with cracked black pepper to taste.
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups salad and 1 poached egg