It’s Not So Hard to be Humble
Toasted breadcrumbs, duh! (Slaps head…) Why do I always forget about them? So easy, so incredibly delicious, and quite light to boot, since one piece of bread and a couple of teaspoons of olive oil make enough garnish for three servings of eggs or vegetables or pasta or fish or potatoes. In fact, there are few dishes that wouldn’t be elevated by a spoonful of humble toasted breadcrumbs. The toasty flavor, the crunch, the punch of garlic and salt (I add garlic and salt). Sublime.
Like in the simple dish pictured up top, which I just consumed for lunch. I know, I know, you’re thinking, how many versions of eggs and greens can this woman consume? What can I say? Fast and easy. Cheap and nutritious. Light yet filling. And most important, so gorgeously delicious, eggs and greens just belong together.
I should back up and say that I don’t always eat eggs with greens. I usually hard-cook a few eggs each week, to have on hand for a quick snack or meal, most often happily eaten straight up (well, with a sprinkle of salt and pepper). But sometimes, as you might imagine, that’s a bit boring. Plus, this image of sauteed hard-cooked eggs nestled into a bed of greens kept popping into my head… Did I dream it up myself? Unlikely. Did I see them in a magazine, a cookbook, online? Couldn’t recall.
After a bit of poking around on Google, I figured out I’d seen it in the cookbook sitting right next to me, Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s How to Eat Supper. In it she reproduces a Jacques Pepin recipe for Pan-Crisped Deviled Eggs on French Lettuces. A clever recipe, quite simple, so pretty (very Jacques Pepin). Following the recipe is a suggested variation, Sardinian Hard-Cooked Eggs, where unstuffed halved eggs are sauteed in olive oil and vinegar and finished with toasted breadcrumbs – even simpler and equally delicious sounding. As I may have mentioned before (ahem), I’m always looking for ways to eat my greens, so I innovated and served the egg on a bed of quickly sauteed spinach. Topped with toasted breadcrumbs, yes.
Completely humble and tasty.
Pan-Crisped Deviled Eggs on French Lettuces
From How to Cook Supper by Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift
Serves 4 as a main dish; 6 as a first course
Eggs can be stuffed a day ahead and refrigerated until you are ready to sauté them.
* 8 large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled
* 1 scant teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
* 2-1/2 teaspoons minced onion
* 2-1/2 tight-packed tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarse chopped
* 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
* 2-1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
* 1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
* Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
* 2 to 3 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
* The leftover egg stuffing
* 3 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 2-1/2 tablespoons milk
* 2-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
* Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
* 4 generous handfuls mixed greens, such as Bibb lettuce, mâche, and dandelion greens or frisée, washed and dried
1. Cut the hard-cooked eggs in half lengthwise. Gently remove the yolks (fingers work best), and place them in a medium bowl. Reserve the whites.
2. Add the mustard, garlic, onion, parsley, milk, mayonnaise, and vinegar to the yolks. With a fork, crush everything together into a thick paste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Pack the mixture back into the hollows of the egg whites, so the filling is even with the surface of the egg, not mounded. You will have leftover stuffing (this becomes the salad dressing).
4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Gently place the eggs in the pan, stuffed side down. Cook until the eggs are beautifully browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper as they cook.
5. As the eggs sauté, combine in a large bowl the leftover egg stuffing with all the dressing ingredients. Add the salad greens to the bowl, and toss. Heap them on a serving platter.
6. Gently lift the eggs from the pan, turn them filling side up, set them on the greens, and serve.
Sardinian Hard-Cooked Eggs with Spinach
Adapted from How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and halved
2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 thick slice of bread, whirred into coarse bread crumbs in a food processor
Four large handfuls of washed and dried spinach leaves
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Set out two plates. In a non-stick sauté pan, heat a few teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add half the garlic and sauté for a minute or two (do not brown). Stir in the breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt and continue stirring until they are evenly golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl.
Wipe out the sauté pan and add a few more teaspoons of olive oil. Add the second half of the garlic and sauté for a minute or two (again, do not brown). Stir in the spinach leaves and a pinch of salt and continue stirring until they are wilted. Transfer to two plates.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, along with two tablespoons of vinegar. When vinegar is bubbling, add the eggs, cut side down. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and and cook the eggs, over medium heat, turning them gently a few times, until the vinegar has evaporated and they are golden.
Place the eggs atop the spinach. Top with toasted breadcrumbs and a few grinds of pepper and serve immediately.