Is there any more perfect food than an egg – both to look at and to eat? The pristine white or café au lait brown ovals are so full of promise. The rich golden yolk is quivering with possibilities.
Besides being beautiful, eggs are nutritional powerhouses and prime FoodTrients. They are rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Eggs contain fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and are a source of high-quality protein at a mere 84 calories each. Their inexpensive yet high-quality protein content makes you feel fuller longer so they’re helpful in managing weight. They also contain about 5.7g fat of which only 1.6g is saturated fat.
Eggs are versatile on their own or as an ingredient. They make baked goods rise and emulsify ingredients in foods such as sauces and mayonnaise. Eggs are enjoyed all over the world. Because global travel is limited these days, you can take a world tour with these recipes.
Warm labneh, also known as kefir cheese, is used all over the Middle East. You can also use Greek yogurt. Labneh is a cross between yogurt and sour cream, but a little less tart and with more protein, fewer calories, fat, and sodium. Plus, labneh has good-for-your-gut probiotics and eating it just twice a week could even help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. You can find it in Middle Eastern or Persian markets, but many large supermarkets carry it, too. This dish is great for breakfast, brunch or even for an easy supper.
Turkish Sunny-Side-Up Eggs with Garlic and Labneh
Splash of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup labneh or Greek-style yogurt
3 sprigs of mint, leaves shredded
Zest of 1 lemon
Large splash of extra virgin olive oil*
*Note: as you become more familiar with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking, you’ll find it good to have two types of olive oil on hand: Regular for cooking and extra virgin for the finishing touch on foods or on salads. Extra virgin olive oil breaks down and burns quickly when heated. And its delicate, fruity flavor is wasted.
1. Take the labneh or yogurt out of the refrigerator one half hour before preparing the eggs to bring it to room temperature. In a medium bowl, grate the garlic and stir it into the labneh or yogurt and season with salt to taste.
2. Fry the eggs in the splash of olive oil until the yolks just start to become firm.
3. Spoon the labneh or yogurt mixture over the eggs until warmed through.
4. Transfer the mixture to a large plate and sprinkle with the mint and lemon zest. Give a generous drizzle of the extra virgin olive oil and serve with warm flat bread or pita.
Another Mediterranean egg dish that’s finding its way into home kitchens and restaurant menus is shakshuka, which is eggs poached atop a spicy mixture of sautéed onions, tomatoes and peppers. A great way to get protein as well as lycopene (from the cooked tomatoes) with its anti-cancer properties, that are enhanced by the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. Lycopene has also been shown to contribute to heart health by reducing oxidative damage and has also been associated with reducing blood pressure.
This dish will blow your guests away at brunch! It’s an Israeli-by-way-of-Tunisia tomato-pepper stew with poached eggs. You can forgo the eggs and use the sauce with other proteins, like chicken or peeled shrimp. With the eggs, tomatoes and vegetables, this is a protein and vitamin packed FoodTrients-rich dish that’s relatively low in calories.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. harissa (a canned or jarred hot sauce found in Middle-Eastern markets. We found it at Trader Joe’s and on Amazon)
4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
1 tsp. mild chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Spanish or Hungarian paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste—it’s hot!
1 tsp. honey (optional, to taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish
1.Heat the olive oil in a deep, large skillet on medium; add the chopped onion, sauté several minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.
2. Add the bell pepper; sauté for about 5 minutes until softened.
3. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to the pan and stir; add the harissa, spices and honey, stir and simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until it starts to reduce.
4. Taste the mixture and adjust the spices to your preference; add salt and pepper to taste, more honey or more cayenne pepper for a spicier sauce.
5. Make 6 indentations in the sauce, evenly spaced; crack the eggs, one at a time, directly into the dips in the sauce. Place 5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook “over easy” on top of the tomato/pepper sauce.
6. Cover the pan; simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has been reduced.
7. Garnish with the parsley.
The egg dish most associated with Italy is usually spaghetti carbonara, which consists of pasta tossed with eggs, cream, Parmesan cheese and prosciutto.
These mini frittatas are an unforgettable option. The recipe started as a way for Italians to use up leftover pasta and the dish is usually prepared as one large frittata. The individual frittatas make a very satisfying snack with lots of protein from the eggs and calcium from the cheese.
Italian Linguine Mini Frittatas
½ lb. linguine
7 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup smoked mozzarella cheese, diced
½ cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 376 degrees F and grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter.
2. Prepare the pasta in rapidly boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente.
3. Drain the pasta in a colander and use a kitchen shears to cut the linguine into smaller pieces, yielding about 3 cups.
4. In a blender or food processor, combine the eggs, milk and mascarpone. Blend until well-combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the cut pasta, mozzarella, Asiago, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg; stir until well combined.
5. Fill each of the muffin cups almost to the top, about 1/3 cup each. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool about 3-4 minutes before removing each frittata from the cups. Arrange on a serving platter or place 2 frittatas on each plate.
This Berry Clafoutis recipe is a French dessert, but it could easily be served for brunch. It’s made with fruit that is covered with batter that consists of eggs, sugar, milk, and flour, very much like flan in texture. It’s traditionally made with cherries, but other fruits can be used such as pears, apples or plums.
You can whip this up in less than an hour before everyone gets up! Besides the delicious taste and the antioxidant-filled berries, it’s simple to prepare from items you probably have on hand in your pantry and refrigerator. If you use frozen berries, defrost them for about an hour first. The berries of course provide antioxidants to go with the protein from the eggs and the calcium from the milk. Who says dessert can’t be FoodTrient-worthy?
Berry Clafoutis a la Francoise
Makes 6 servings
1 cup milk
½ cup cane sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbs. melted butter
½ cup flour
1 ½ cup mixed fresh or frozen berries
Powdered sugar, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a bowl whisk together the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon and butter. Add the flour and mix until there are no lumps.
3. Pour the batter into a well-buttered 8-inch pie dish and top with the berries. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. Tastes best warm!