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Easy, elegant egg recipes for spring

My friend Kristin keeps chickens—gorgeous, healthy and hugely productive chickens. Being the good friend that she is, she provides me with an almost endless supply of straight-from-the-chicken’s-butt eggs.

Nothing quite matches the taste of farm fresh eggs. Kristin brings them to me with bits of chicken bedding and straw still stuck to the shell. I love washing each egg, knowing how fresh it is and how tasty it will be. These eggs are large with rich, orangey-yellow yolks. Their shells are almost pink and surprisingly delicate.

This steady supply of fresh eggs has made me creative when it comes to their preparation. I’ve been putting fried eggs on reheated pizza (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it), on leftover roasted veggies (breakfast of the gods) and even on my bacon and spinach salad.

The recipe on the next page is a favorite breakfast or brunch go-to. It’s a spring vegetable strata that, if you’re smart, you’ll make the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight, soaking up eggy, cheesy goodness. All you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven and dazzle your family and guests. It’s perfect for brunch or lunch—or even dinner for that matter. Serve with a salad and, as if by magic, you’re the most popular person in the room.

It’s an easy recipe to adapt for all kinds of palates. Are you cooking for meat lovers? Add bacon, ham or sausage. Add south-of-the-border flavor with chorizo, black beans and a cup of salsa. Let your imagination go wild.

Too many eggs in the fridge? Make deviled eggs, perfect for parties or at-home nibbling. There are so many ways to make them yummy. Take the basic recipe below and make your own unique version. Add a mashed avocado for green eggs—with or without ham. A couple of ounces of grated cheese will take your eggs to the next level of delicious. And my favorite deviled egg hack is a healthy splash of Sriracha for eggs with a devilish kick and a pale orange hue.

Photo by Candace Karu

DEVILED EGGS

8 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with paprika, cilantro, salsa, mini pepperoni, etc.

Cut eggs in half. Remove and set yolks aside.
Combine egg yolks, mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice. Add more mayonnaise if too dry.
Add grated cheese, avocado, Sriracha (or whatever strikes your fancy) for variation.
Mash with a fork for a textured filling. Blend in food processor for a creamier version.
Fill egg indentations with mixture.

Photo by Candace Karu

SPRING VEGETABLE STRATA

1 shallot, chopped (use spring ramps if you can find them)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced thin
2 cups fresh baby spinach or arugula, chopped
1 (8.5 ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 tablespoons softened butter
6 slices of bread, any kind will do, day-old is perfect
8 ounces grated cheddar, Swiss, or Gruyere cheese
1 dozen large eggs
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook shallots and zucchini until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for two more minutes. Set aside and let cool.
Spread butter evenly over both sides of bread slices. Arrange in even layer over bottom of 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with layer of spinach, followed by layers of artichoke hearts, cooked veggies, tomatoes, basil, and cheese.
In large bowl, whisk eggs until well combined. Whisk in yogurt, milk, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Pour mixture evenly over ingredients in baking dish.
Bake strata until top is golden and eggs are completely set, about 1 hour. Serve hot.

Candace Karu makes her living writing about food, fitness and travel. She lives near the ocean in an old farmhouse with two ill-behaved dogs and two hard-working barn cats. Follow her on Instagram: @candacekaru or at www.candacekaru.com.

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