Ottolenghi’s Baked Eggs for a Cold Blue Saturday

I used to be a rider. I lived for the incremental relationship that grew between me and the uniformly complicated horses I rode as a kid. Mud, the Quarter Horse that pinned his ears, swirled around to kick me and bolted the first time I tried to fetch him from his paddock, months later knew my step, whinnied and trotted toward the gate when he heard my voice calling “Mudriiiiiick!”

Cory, the Swedish warmblood that bucked unfailingly with every canter stride but could clear a 4 foot fence from a standstill, made mothers turn to mine and say, “How can you let your daughter ride that horse?!”…he made me smile. Katie, my Thoroughbred baby, bought off the racetracks because I had no money for a trained-up horse, who at 4 years old was like a sponge, learning from every step, every grateful scrub of my gloved hand through her strawberry blonde mane, every proud coo in her ear as we cooled down after a lesson, she had my heart. She was my heart.

But I am no longer a rider, not that way–three times a day, shoveling shit to pay for tack, begging for custom tall boots for Christmas. I don’t take trail rides around the edges of whispering corn fields to clear my head, or lessons in sandy rings when my mind goes blank to everything but the 1,100 lb creature beneath me. Now I’ve graduated from that cliché of childish first love that a girl has for horses. I am (ostensibly) a grownup and food is my mind’s salve, my passion, my focus. I use the word chiffonade more often than snaffle and read references to fenugreek with more frequency than those to forelocks.

So when I wake this morning with the blue snow-reflected light of dawn and, eyes half-closed, slide my hand across the linen to find cool emptiness beside me where a week ago my love would have lain, I rear out of bed and hustle to the market. It’s shrunk due to the weather, but the farmers are there, bundled and stalwart nonetheless, selling their winter wares: orange roots, purple tubers. Something edible always seems an excellent investment to quiet my ever-fidgeting mind, focusing me on the task at hand. Follow the recipe—my course in the chaos—I’ll clean greens; I’ll chop garlic.

Baked eggs with yogurt and chile from Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetable-focused cookbook, Plenty, seems like just the comfort I need. Of course, I have to bend it according to what I can find in these cold stalls and in my tiny cupboard, so I replace Ottolenghi’s arugula with verdant broccoli rabe, and use beloved dried pequin peppers and a pinch of smoked paprika instead of the Turkish spice, kirmizi biber, that he recommends. Windfall Farms‘ pale blue eggs are just the color of the dawn light that stirred me. I sauté my sage to cleanse my space of evil spirits, instead of burning it like some. And while I savor my piquant meal alone, eaten straight from the scalding pan, I listen to Peggy Lee croon Blues in the Night and, despite myself, I feel better.

Ingredients (Serves 1)
½ bunch of rabe (it will shrink)
1 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
2 organic eggs
¼ cup of Greek yogurt (I like Fage)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 dried pequin peppers (or other small bird chile)
1 pinch of smoked paprika
6 sage leaves

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat olive oil in a pan add some sea salt and sauté for 5 minutes on high heat, until the stems are tender but still have a snap. Make two nest indentations in the rabe. Break an egg into each. Crumble a flake of salt onto the eggs and cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the whites have set.

While the eggs cook, mix the crushed garlic in with the yogurt. Don’t refrigerate.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add a pinch of salt, the pequin and paprika (or kirmizi biber). Fry for 1-2 minutes, until the butter has a red froth to it. Add the sage and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

When the eggs are done, spoon a healthy dollop of the garlic yogurt on top and pour the chile butter and sage over the top. Serve immediately.

To leave a comment, please click here and scroll down to where it says, “Leave a reply.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “Ottolenghi’s Baked Eggs for a Cold Blue Saturday”

  1. Don Sally says:

    Oh right listening that Peggy Lee, “is that all there is my friend”

  2. samg says:

    This sounds most tempting for a light supper on a frigid night…love the subsituion of the brocolli rabe, might just try tonight!

  3. Barbara says:

    Sounds delicious! Love hearing about your inspirations for veering from the book’s recipe. Also, your blue white eggs look gorgeous, I’d be interested to hear your recommendations on buying eggs and if brown vs white really matters.

    • Tarajia says:

      I have an irrational fear of white eggs (how can anything be so perfectly white?!) but really, the only eggs to get are ones hatched recently by chickens who are cared for well (read: organic and local). Color don’t mean a thing (though I’ll take bluish green or brown over brightest white any day)

  4. Sally Lynch says:

    Yum! Thanks for sharing a perfect recipe for these cold mornings that are the introduction to 2014. Perfect, T.

  5. Pietre Dure says:

    Yeah for farmers markets, the Arucana eggs are so gorgeous.
    Simplicity is always the most elegant solution for food and all else.

  6. Silver Cat says:

    What a delicious comfort meal! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Lucy says:

    This is one of my favourite recipes ever from one of my most treasured books. Love it T xxx

  8. Patricia says:

    Beautiful post T. I will be adding this to my repertoire. Happy, healthy and peaceful 2014 to you!

  9. JANE says:

    I love eating a meal out of a pan…simplicity is the way forward!

Leave a Reply