It's that time of the year when we think about eggs. Mostly though, as Easter approaches, we consider them in Technicolor and placed lovingly in a child's basket. Some are even plastic with centers of chocolates or jelly beans instead of daffodil-yellow yolks. • But Easter is still a ways away — April 20 this year — and today I am celebrating how a fried egg can elevate the most mundane tangle of flavors. Leftover fried rice? Bam. A fried egg on top turns it into Dinner, Night 2. Sick of Caesar salad adorned with chicken or salmon? Slide a fried egg on that ice-cold, dressed Romaine and let the runny yolk make the dressing even creamier. Looking for a new way to garnish a cheeseburger? Let a sunny-side-up egg do the talking (but not to your doctor). • Eggs are a hot topic this year, perhaps because of the city chickens phenomenon, which is providing entire neighborhoods fresh eggs from the wanna-be farmers on the block. There are at least seven cookbooks out this year celebrating the egg; among them are three published last month: Eggs on Top by Andrea Slonecker (Chronicle Books), The Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook by Terry Golson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and The Egg Cookbook: The Creative Farm-to-Table Guide to Cooking Fresh Eggs by Healdsburg Press. • Let the wild egg rumpus begin!
Adding a fried (or poached or baked) egg to a sandwich or salad is not a new trick. The French bring the technique to an art form with the Croque Madame sandwich and Salad Lyonnaise. The former is the femininely named version of the Croque Monsieur, basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a lush bechamel sauce. Add a fried egg to the top and you've got the Madame. For the Salad Lyonnaise, a web of spidery frisee is dressed with a red wine vinaigrette, studded with crispy bits of slab bacon and topped with a poached egg. Simple, elegant, delicious.
The Korean rice dish bibimbap typically has a cooked egg on top, and, honestly, what hash is worth its weight in calories without that yellow yolk winking up at you?
I think it best to keep the yolks soft and let the flavor run through the dish. If the yolk is hard-cooked, that changes the dynamic. You can fry them any way you like, using olive oil to baste them, executing a classic sunny-side-up egg or even finishing them in the oven. The experts advise against seasoning until they are done or you risk pock-marking the whites with the salt. I don't mind that look at all. I call it rustic, but to each her own when it comes to frying eggs.
Besides the recipes accompanying this story, here are five dishes you might not have thought to put an egg — fried, baked or poached — on:
Cheesy Grits: For breakfast, lunch or dinner, a bowl of cheese grits becomes even more deluxe with the addition of a fried egg. I stir in sliced scallions before the egg topper and then dot with Sriracha sauce. (You could do the same thing with creamy polenta or any type of risotto.)
Baked Avocado: Split an unpeeled avocado and discard the pit. Crack an egg into each well and bake the pieces on a sheet for about 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven or until egg whites have set. Sprinkle with feta cheese and some chopped fresh parsley. Serve with toast.
Roasted Asparagus: Consider this for Easter morning brunch. Add a poached or fried egg to a raft of roasted, seasoned asparagus and then top that with chunky shavings of Parmesan.
Lentils and Greens: In a large skillet, saute 1 diced onion and a couple of small diced carrots in olive oil. When carrots get soft, add 2 to 3 cloves of minced garlic. Stir in several cups of cooked lentils and heat through. In another skillet, wilt greens (spinach or arugula) in a bit of olive oil (or broth). Mix greens with lentils and then add a fried egg to the top of each serving. (Use the spinach skillet to fry the eggs.)
Twice-Baked Potatoes: When the potatoes go into the oven for their second baking, make a well and crack an egg in the depression. Sprinkle with chopped chives. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until egg whites are set.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8586. Follow @RoadEats on Twitter.
Chickpea and Spinach Stew With Fried Egg
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use, plus more for frying eggs
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided use
8 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5 canned whole tomatoes, crushed
3 cups (or more) vegetable broth
4 large eggs
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add 1 sliced garlic clove. Stir until it begins to turn golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add spinach to pot. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted but still bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; set aside. Wipe out pot.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in same pot over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion and 3 remaining garlic cloves. Cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add cumin and paprika; stir until cumin is toasted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add chickpeas and tomatoes; stir to coat. Cook until tomatoes start to caramelize and chickpeas begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 3 cups broth; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, occasionally mashing some chickpeas with the back of a spoon or a potato masher, until sauce is thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Fold in spinach; simmer for flavors to meld, adding more broth by ¼-cupfuls if too thick, 8 to 10 minutes.
Pour some oil into a large skillet to a depth of ⅛ inch (about ¼ cup). Heat until oil begins to shimmer. Crack 2 eggs into hot oil, spacing apart. Using a large spoon, carefully baste whites (not yolks) with oil until whites are set and edges are crunchy, lacy, and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes (do not turn). Season eggs with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining 2 eggs.
Spoon chickpea stew into bowls and top each with a fried egg and crumbled feta cheese.
Source: Bon Appétit test kitchen
Linguine With Fried Egg and Herb Topping
1 (16-ounce) package linguine
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
Coarse salt to taste
Crushed hot red pepper flakes to taste
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or sage leaves (optional)
Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. (You should time this dish so that the pasta is ready as soon as the eggs are done.)
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and cook, sunny-side up, basting with a spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes without turning, or until the eggs are just done (the yolks should still be runny and the whites set but still soft). Remove the pan from heat and move eggs to a warmed plate; sprinkle eggs with coarse salt and hot red pepper flakes.
When the pasta is done, drain and toss with the Parmesan cheese, additional red pepper flakes, and parsley.
Divide the pasta among individual warmed serving bowls or plates. Pour the contents of the egg pan (including the oil, butter, and garlic) onto the top of each individual pasta. Top each portion with a fried egg.
If desired, garnish pasta and eggs with oregano or sage.
Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese at the table.
Herb Waffles With Sausage, Peppers —
and a Fried Egg
¾ pound bulk sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
1 red pepper, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
½ green pepper, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup chopped mixed herbs (such as parsley, thyme, chives, and tarragon)
1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
1 ¼ cups milk
4 tablespoons (half stick) butter, melted
½ cup sliced scallions
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 200 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large stainless steel skillet over medium high heat until shimmering, then add sausage. Cook, stirring to break apart sausage until it's browned and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain all but about 1 tablespoon fat. Add onion and peppers. Cook until onions are beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.
Preheat waffle iron following manufacturer's instructions. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, sugar, and herbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together garlic, 3 eggs, milk, and melted butter. Whisk wet and dry ingredients together.
Cook waffles until crisp and brown. Place cooked waffles on a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.
When all waffles are cooked, heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add remaining four eggs and fry until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 2 minutes. Serve waffles topped with sausage and pepper mixture and a fried egg.
Note: You could use frozen toaster waffles for this, but they might be smaller than what you would make from scratch.
Eggs Benedict Salad
5 thin prosciutto slices
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
10 cups coarsely torn frisee (about 2 large heads; 9 ounces total)
1 ¼ cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
8 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
4 large eggs
For the hollandaise sauce:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
⅛ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Pinch of ground white pepper
For salad: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange prosciutto slices in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until prosciutto is crisp, about 12 minutes. Remove prosciutto from oven; let cool on sheet. Coarsely crumble.
Whisk oil and vinegar in small bowl for vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine frisee, edamame, radishes and onion in large bowl.
Fill another large bowl with cold water. Pour enough water into large skillet to reach depth of 1 ½ inches. Add 1 teaspoon coarse salt; bring to simmer. Crack 1 egg into each of 4 custard cups or small bowls, keeping yolks intact. Gently slide eggs into simmering water. Cook just until whites are set, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer 1 egg at a time to prepared bowl with cold water. Reserve skillet with water.
For hollandaise sauce: Whisk 2 egg yolks and lemon juice in medium metal bowl. Gradually whisk in melted butter. Set bowl over medium saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk constantly until mixture thickens and instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees for 3 minutes, about 5 minutes total. Remove bowl from over water; whisk in last 3 ingredients. Cover to keep warm.
Toss salad with vinaigrette. Divide among plates; sprinkle with prosciutto.
Bring reserved skillet with water to boil. Using slotted spoon, slide poached eggs back into skillet; cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Using slotted spoon, divide eggs among salads. Drizzle with hollandaise.
Source: Bon Appétit
Potato and Bacon Hash With Fried Eggs
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
4 baking potatoes, peeled, finely chopped
1 cup chopped onion (2 medium)
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
In 12-inch skillet or sauté pan, cook bacon over medium heat about 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; place on paper towels to drain. Set aside.
To drippings in skillet, add potatoes, onions and bell peppers; cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and onions and peppers have browned.
Sprinkle potato mixture with salt and pepper. Return bacon to skillet. Stir in thyme and parsley.
To fry eggs, heat 10-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add oil to skillet. Crack eggs into skillet; cover with lid or plate. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until egg yolks are firm. Add fried eggs to top of hash.
Makes 4 servings.