Happy Wellness Wednesday wonderful readers. I hope that you are as egg-cited as I am to cook a delicious and nutritious dinner. Sometimes, during the busy week, it can be quite a scramble to get food on the table. I’ve got a great recipe for when you come home from work feeling totally fried, but you don’t want to shell out beau-coop bucks for take out. I’m not yolk-ing around when I say that this is one of my favorite recipes.
This installment of wellness Wednesday is inspired by a recipe by Yottem Ottolenghi. Ottolenghi is an Israeli chef who lives, cooks, and writes in London. He became famous for writing a series in the London Times titled: “The New Vegetarian.” His cookbook, Plenty, is full of gorgeous and flavorful recipes, highlighting the versatility and variety of vegetables. Ottolenghi himself is NOT a strict vegetarian (much to the radical-millitant-vegan communitiy’s chagrin).
Ottolenghi’s approach to cooking puts vegetables front and center in each dish. He describes himself as “not burdened by rules…or ideology,” but rather strives to “celebrate vegetables without making them taste like meat, or as complements to meat, but to be what they are. It does no favour to vegetarians, making vegetables second best.”
I love Ottolenghi’s approach to cooking and food. “Vegetable-based cookery” is often negatively associated with bland food and Birkenstocks. Great dishes should stand on their own merits: exciting combinations of fresh flavors. Oftentimes vegetarian, or so-called “healthy” recipes seem to go out of their way to emphasize what is ABSENT from the dish: gluten-free, low-carb, no-animal-protein, no-fun.
Ottolenghi goes out of his way to CELEBRATE how delicious, vegetarian cooking can be. The fact that many of his recipes lack meat is incidental; what’s important is that his recipes are exquisite, mouthwatering, and indulgent. You won’t miss meat if you’re too distracted making “yummy” noises and licking your plate. I’m personally mostly a plant-based person, but I see no reason to limit myself with hard and fast rules concerning what kinds of foods I eat. There is equal space for soybeans and steak on my plate. It is far more important to me that my ingredients are high quality, rather than that they adhere to the framework of some specific dietary regime. As I mentioned in a previous Wellness Wednesday post, my idea of a complete meal consists of: protein, high-quality carbohydrates, vegetables, and healthy fats. The recipe that I’ve chosen to adapt for you (find the original here) is: Skillet Baked Eggs in a Nest of Greens.
That’s enough talking out of me, let’s get the SHELL into the kitchen and get cooking!
The original recipe scores high marks for veggies, protein (from the eggs: did you know one egg has seven grams of protein? Eggs are nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamins and minerals, not just a breakfast food) and healthy fats. However, I was, as always, craving something carb-y when I made this meal; luckily, my CSA provided me with some gorgeous baby red potatoes. This dish would go equally well with grains (I bet bulgur would be nice), or even some good crusty bread. I started my potatoes boiling before I did anything else, to give them time to cook.
To make the main dish gather together:
¼ white onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium sized bunch of kale (any green would work- spinach or mustard greens would be tasty!)
salt and pepper
½ tsp cumin seeds
I also made a tzaziki-style sauce to go on top of the greens and eggs. To make that you will need
¼ cup greek yogurt
1 Tbsp olive oil
First chop your onion and your garlic
Reserve half of the garlic in a small bowl for the sauce.
Grab your jalapeño.
Remove the ribs and seeds, and finely dice the pepper. As I mentioned when I taught you to make Caliente Clams, the ribs (placental tissues) contain the majority of the fiery capsaicin that makes peppers painful. I wanted a little bit, but not too much, heat for this dish. If you like things HOT, by all means leave in the seeds.
Heat a tablespoon of olive-oil in cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. We’re going to be putting the skillet in the oven later, so DO NOT USE A NON-STCK PAN. When your oil begins to shimmer, and you can feel warmth emanating from the surface of the pan if you hold your hand an inch away, add your onions and garlic. Add salt and pepper, and sautee for a few minutes until your kitchen starts to smell really good.
While the onions and garlic cook down, get your greens ready.
De-rib and coarsely chop the kale.
Time to check on your onions. Add the chopped jalapeño, and cumin seeds to the pan. Stir everything around and let the flavors meld together for a few minutes.
Add the chopped kale to the pan, turn down the heat to medium-low.
While the greens are wilting, let’s take some time to make the sauce. First, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the reserved garlic. Next we’re going to do something kinda strange: microwave the garlic-oil mixture for 30 seconds. This is a fast way to infuse the oil with garlic flavor. Your kitchen is going to smell INCREDIBLE.
Chop up roughly a quarter cup of fresh cilantro leaves. Add them to the garlic/oil blend. Add ¼ cup of greek yogurt, and the juice from one lemon wedge.
Mix everything together and add salt and pepper to taste.
Good job! You made the sauce! If you’re feeling extra sassy you could add cucumbers and mint and make tzaziki! Or substitute dill and serve it with fish for a tasty variation on tartar sauce. There will be extra, and it’s great on sandwiches or as a veggie dip. Or eaten directly from the bowl with a spoon.
Now that we’ve made the sauce, it’s time to check on the greens, they probably have cooked down by now. Use your spatula to arrange the greens to form a large ellipse, with two indentations in the center.
Crack your eggs directly into the indentations, and begin pre-heating your broiler.
Add salt and pepper, let the eggs cook for no more than two or three minutes. We will be finishing cooking the eggs in the oven, we don’t want chalky, overcooked yolks.
Take the pan and place it under the broiler.
Broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the whites of the eggs JUST begin to set. Confession time: I got distracted while I was making this dish, and left it under the broiler for too long, it turned out delicious, but not exactly aesthetically pleasing (and my yolks weren’t deliciously runny, as I had hoped). Don’t be like me: pay attention to your food while it is cooking! Broilers get REALLY hot.
Before you overcook your eggs, take the skillet out of the oven. Slide the whole nest of eggy green goodness on to a plate, along with your carbohydrate of choice. Top the eggs with a dollop of sauce.
I chose to accompany my dinner with a light green salad, which is optional.
You might decide to skip the salad, or choose cous-cous instead of potatoes. Those are perfectly acceptable options, however I must recommend, in these lovely long summer days, that you enjoy your dinner outside.
Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious week!