Tomato- Tomato – Eggs Becadict!

29 Aug

The harvest is upon us!  If I were Maria in the Sound of Music, I’d be singing:

“Eight types of peppers, three pounds red potatoes;
Squashes and beans and two hundred tomatoes!
Long braids of garlic all tied with a string,
These are a few of my favorite things!”

tomato season

What do you do when you get to the farmer’s market in late August and realize you’ve left all your restraint at home?
One of the best things about August is that farmers are suddenly inundated with tomatoes.  Up until this point, I’ve been avoiding the tomatoes at the market.  The July tomato has a bad habit of staring at me with bedroom eyes, enticing me to pay six dollars for the privilege of slurping its purplish-black heirloom juice.  I cannot resist them, so I try not to look at them at all.

But this and next week, farmers will be so overwhelmed by their harvest that they’ll practically be paying you to take their tomatoes off their hands (or, anyway, half as much for the same product).

It being Saturday, farmer’s market day and brunch day, I thought I’d try to make a tomato-y brunch-y thing.  What I came up with is a really very nice variation on Eggs Benedict.

Eggs Becadict, if you will!

It replaces hollandaise with a yogurt sauce, and uses grilled tomatoes in place of ham.  You could easily add wilted spinach, roasted peppers, or plenty of other vegetables.  I might try it again next time with a layer of sauteed beet greens and purple onions under the tomato layer (olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper make greens of any kind extra delicious).

Here’s what I did this time:

1) Set a large, deep pan or pot of heavily salted water to boil.  Adding a tablespoon of vinegar to the water will also help the eggs to float.

adding salt and vinegar to the water will help the eggs to float

2) While the water is heating, cut a loaf of crusty french or ciabatta bread into slices, 1-1/2″ thick, and slice up a large tomato into rounds, 1/2″ thick. You want about three rounds for each slice of bread.

cut the bread into 1-1/2" slices

3) Place the tomato and bread slices on opposite sides of a baking pan.  Salt and pepper the tomatoes generously.  Stick the pan into the oven at 350-degrees.  You can also grill the tomatoes and the bread in a pan on the stove if you choose.

4) While the tomatoes and bread are toasting, you can start to mix up the yogurt sauce.  I used a small 6-0z cup of full fat, plain yogurt and I mixed in about 1/4 of a large clove of garlic (minced), one scallion stalk (chopped), 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.  You could add or substitute any fresh herb you wanted for the scallion.

substitute your favorite fresh herb for the scallions pictured here

5) Probably by now the water is boiling.  To poach an egg, turn the heat down on the water until the water is no longer at a full boil (a few small bubbles is fine, but the water shouldn’t be rolling).  Gently crack an egg and open it right over the water.  If you’re afraid of burning your fingers (which I did), you can crack the egg into a small saucer first and then slide the egg from the saucer into the water.  The egg white will try to separate from the yolk in the water, so your job will be to (gently!) help them stay together.  You can take a spoon and (gently!) push the white over the top of the yoke.  Be careful when you’re doing this not to break the yoke.  If you do, don’t worry – just start over with a new egg.

help push the whites onto the yolks by gently guiding them with a spoon

Let the eggs cook in the hot water for at least three minutes, or until the whites are cooked through.  If you like your yokes runny, take them out immediately after the whites have cooked.  If you like them medium, wait a little longer.  You can check the hardness of the yoke by scooping the egg out of the water with a spoon (a slotted spoon works really well for this if you have one) and (gently!) poking the yoke with your finger to feel its firmness.  I cooked my eggs for about six minutes, and the yokes were a very satisfying, viscous texture.

6) When the bread is brown, take the pan out of the oven.  On a plate, put a slice of bread and layer on three slices of the grilled tomato.  On top of the tomato, place one of the poached eggs.  Then, cover the egg in two heaping spoonfuls of the yogurt dressing.  It should look at taste as good as any Eggs Benedict-ish thing you would order at a restaurant.

eggs your-way-nadict!

*A note about eggs: If there is one food more than any other where good quality, local sourcing will make a difference, this food, in my view, is the egg.  Local eggs from free-range hens on small, sustainable farms – hens, in other words, who are able to move around and eat a variety of foods, including grasses and insects – will have deep, rich, dark orange yokes that taste loads better and have much much more nutritional value than the pale yellow yokes you will find in conventionally farmed eggs.  The difference for your health and your palate will be profound.

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