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Egg-cited for spring? Crack into these recipes

Olive oil-fried eggs with spiced roasted chickpeas, harissa and sour cream. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Olive oil-fried eggs with spiced roasted chickpeas, harissa and sour cream. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Spring is here, and eggs — a symbol of fertility and new life — are on chef Kathy Gunst’s mind and plate.

One of the great things about eggs is that they are ideal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Here are three new recipes, one for each meal of the day.

Shopping for eggs

Let’s be honest. It’s easy to take eggs for granted. They are just there, in your fridge like milk and butter. But not all eggs are created equal.

If you have a neighbor raising chickens that run around and fend for snacks all day, that is — as far as I’m concerned — your best bet. Pasture-raised chickens that can roam around outside, get nutrients from food scraps, grass, clover and bugs, yield eggs very high in nutrients. Short of having a chicken-loving neighbor, look for eggs at farmers’ markets or those labeled organic or pasture-raised eggs.

According to the USDA, eggs will keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 weeks. Be sure to check the expiration date on the carton to see just how fresh or old they are.

Eggs and cholesterol

There are conflicting studies on the relationship between eggs and cholesterol. Some sources claim the cholesterol found in eggs doesn’t necessarily raise cholesterol levels. Others disagree.

According to the Mayo Clinic: “Chicken eggs are an affordable source of protein and other nutrients. They’re also naturally high in cholesterol. But the cholesterol in eggs doesn’t seem to raise cholesterol levels the way some other foods, such as those high in trans fats and saturated fats, do.

“Although some studies have found a link between eating eggs and heart disease, there could be other reasons for these findings. The foods people typically eat with eggs, such as bacon, sausage and ham, might do more to boost heart disease risk than eggs do. Plus, the way eggs and other foods are cooked — especially if fried in oil or butter — might play more of a role in the increased risk of heart disease than eggs themselves do.

“Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week without increasing their risk of heart disease.”

So many of us can enjoy eggs in moderation (and maybe skip the bacon!).  But, like any health issue, if you have concerns, consult your doctor.

Breakfast: Olive oil-fried eggs with spiced roasted chickpeas, harissa and sour cream

Olive oil-fried eggs with spiced roasted chickpeas, harissa and sour cream. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

This dish was inspired by a breakfast dish at Friends and Family, a wonderful bakery in Los Angeles. The eggs are fried in olive oil. The chickpeas are roasted with cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and chili flakes with store-bought harissa (a blend of roasted pepper, cumin, olive oil and other spices). Sour cream is served on top and alongside. Serve with crusty toast. If you make the chickpeas a few hours or a day ahead, you can serve this dish in no time.

Serves 2 to 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked chicken peas, about 13.4-ounce box or can, drained, washed under cold water and drained again
  • 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus ¼ cup olive oil for eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Pinch chili flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 medium to large eggs
  • About ¼ cup harissa
  • About ½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt


Instructions

  1. Make the chickpeas; preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 ½ tablespoons of the oil, cumin, turmeric, chili flakes, cinnamon, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roast on the middle shelf for about 15 minutes or until they begin to pop and crisp up and turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a touch more salt. The chickpeas can be roasted several hours ahead of time.
  2. Fry the eggs: In a large skillet, heat the ¼ cup oil over medium-high heat. Gently crack the eggs into the oil (if your skillet isn’t large enough, use two skillets and divide the oil) and cook for about 4 minutes, gently tilting the skillet to the side and, using a kitchen spoon, spooning the oil on top and on the sides of the eggs. Cook until the edges are brown and the yolk looks set; you want it to be runny but not raw. Keep spooning the oil on top of the eggs throughout the cooking time.
  3. Divide the eggs between 2 to 4 plates, scatter the chickpeas on top and along the sides of the eggs. Dab the harissa on top of the eggs and on the plate, and spoon some of the sour cream (or yogurt) onto each plate.

Lunch: Egg salad with spring greens

Egg salad with spring greens. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

This egg salad is full of bright, green, spring-like flavors. Parsley, chives, dill, scallions and pickles are finely chopped and mixed with mayonnaise. I like to serve this salad on an open-faced sandwich using a lightly toasted slice of my favorite bread. Top with thin radish slices or watermelon radish for an extra burst of color. You could also add an anchovy filet to the top of the open-faced sandwich.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 5 large or 6 medium eggs
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill or chives, finely chopped, plus dill sprigs or chives for garnish
  • 1 to 2 scallions, white and green sections, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons gherkin pickles or cornichons, thinly sliced
  • About ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices favorite bread
  • 1 to 2 radishes or 1 watermelon radish, very thinly sliced, or 4 anchovy filets, optional garnish


Instructions

  1. Place the eggs in a pot of cold water and set over high heat. Bring to a boil; once the water boils vigorously, turn off the heat and keep the pot over the still-warm burner for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the eggs and pour cold water on top. Drain again. Roll the egg from side to side in the empty pot (you want them to crack slightly) and cover with  cold water.  Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the water and peel the eggs.
  2. Place the peeled eggs in a medium bowl and using a kitchen fork or potato masher, mash the eggs. Add the parsley, dill (or chives), scallions, pickles (or cornichons), mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Lightly toast the bread. Cut each piece in half so you have 4 pieces. Scoop ¼ of the egg salad mixture onto each piece of bread and top with the radish slices and dill sprigs (or chives), if using.


Dinner: Individual spinach and cheese souffle

Individual spinach and cheese souffle. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Souffle for dinner? Yes, I am aware it sounds intimidating. But stick with me. Souffles show off the magic of eggs more than almost any other dish. Whip an egg white until it’s stiff and holds peaks. Fold it into a simple mixture of spinach in a cheese sauce with egg yolks and you’ve got the making of a simple dinner souffle.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus butter for greasing the souffle dishes
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, or your favorite hard cheese, plus about 2 tablespoons for souffle dishes
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, optional
  • 4 to 5 ounces spinach, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and squeeze dry)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ tablespoons flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Dash ground nutmeg


Instructions

  1. Prepare the souffle dishes; liberally coat two 1-cup souffle dishes or ovenproof ramekins or custard dishes with butter on the bottom and sides of the dish, and then sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of cheese. Set aside on a baking sheet. If you don’t have souffle dishes you can use an ovenproof 8-inch skillet and prepare in the same way.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Separate the 3 eggs, cracking the yolks into a small bowl and the whites into a large bowl. Add the extra egg white to the other three whites in the bowl and set aside.
  4. If using fresh spinach, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach, salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring for about 4 minutes or until thoroughly wilted. Cool slightly and chop; set aside. You’ll need ½ cup packed spinach; set aside. If using frozen spinach, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes until softened. You can also place frozen spinach in a small pot of simmering water for about  2 minutes; drain. Squeeze dry with paper towels.
  5. In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. When sizzling, add the flour and stir to create a smooth paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add milk and cream and whisk until smooth and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the spinach, ¾ cup cheese, egg yolks, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  6. Whip egg whites until firm peaks form. Fold the whipped whites into the spinach mixture with a soft spatula until fully combined. Divide the mixture between the two prepared souffle dishes or place in the 8-inch skillet. Place on the baking sheet and place on the middle shelf of the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the souffles have risen and are golden brown and don’t appear to be wet. Serve immediately.


More favorite egg dishes:

  • Click here for recipes to make shakshuka and breakfast tacos.
  • Click here for recipes to make leek, red pepper, red onion, and tomato frittata, a trio of deviled eggs and bistro-style frisée salad with poached eggs, sautéed leeks and bacon.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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