Basque Eggs...It was by chance that I came across this dish. Actually, I was looking through the Canadian Food Network website for a particular cookie recipe, and stumbled upon this recipe by Laura Calder of French Food At Home. She definitely makes French food look easy and uncomplicated. This particular recipe looked simple enough....yet elegant. And well,...it had eggs:). I just couldn't pass it up.
I love cooking with fresh ingredients, and this recipe fit the category. I postponed making it, since I really wanted to use my own tomatoes...fresh from my own garden. Our summer wasn't very warm this year, and so the tomatoes had a really hard time ripening. We were then confronted with some really cold weather and the tomatoes didn't even have a chance. I had to harvest them or lose them...most of them still green. To top it all off, I went on a 3 week vacation...My only hope for their survival was to place them in a paper bag and hope for the best. When I returned, I was thrilled to see that my tomatoes had not gone bad...actually, they had ripened! I was quite elated and needed no further prompting to finally make the Basque eggs:). I guess traditionally, the Basque eggs are made with a mixture of red and green bell peppers... the green peppers are a bit more popular in the southern region of France. As I didn't have any green bell peppers on hand, I figured I could easily skip it. And then of course, I had a few ripe yellow tomatoes....so I used those as well.
This meal comes together quickly...just a matter of sauteeing some onion, fresh tomatoes and bell peppers(also known as a piperade). Traditionally, the piperade is cooked till soft and then beaten eggs are incorporated into the mixture... at the last moment. It really doesn't make for a nice looking dish... needless to say, I am sure it is quite tasty. But Laura Calder brings it up to a different level... by placing the eggs on top of the piperade and then transforms the dish into something quite spectacular without sacrificing the flavors of the dish. I much prefer the egg on top. This dish is definitely healthy... and well...a different sort of meal. Obviously, one must like their veggies in order to enjoy this:). I like making this ... especially when you have a few vegetables that need to be used up. And then the ham and egg is always an added bonus:). Hope you enjoy... ~~~~~ I made this about a month ago and haven't had the chance to post it till now...I know we are in the wintery months, but this healthy dish can easily be prepared for lunch or dinner especially when you have a pretty busy day. Of course, you can easily use store-bought tomatoes.~~~~
You will need: adapted from Laura Calder
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 large red pepper, cut into thin julienne
1 green bell pepper( I chose to omit...since I didn't have any)
1 chili pepper, minced or julienned( I used a jalapeno)
4-5 medium tomatoes, chopped( I used a mixture yellow and red, from my garden)
salt and pepper
smoked paprika, to taste*
6-8 slices thinly sliced ham or prosciutto
* or piment d’espelette
In a in a sauté pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add onions and cook till soft. When the onions are softened, you can add the garlic, and the red pepper along with the hot chili( dried or fresh). Cook on medium low till the peppers soften and become tender. Add the tomatoes and season with some salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes. You want everything to soften and release its juices. Remove the lid and continue cooking for a few more minutes or until most of the juices have evaporated.
With a wide spoon make a well in the center of the softened vegetables...up to the point where you can see the bottom of the pan....or almost. Crack the eggs onto the surface... space the eggs evenly among the vegetables. Season the top of the eggs with a bit of salt and pepper. Cover, and cook until just done. You want the yolks to be runny....of course, if you don't like them runny cook them just the way you like them:).
While the eggs are cooking, arrange a "nest" of ham on each plate. Garnish with some toasted baguette. Place one egg along with some of the piperade in the center of the ham nests.