Sunday, July 20, 2008

Eggs Baked with Tomatoes, Summer Squash, and Red Onions

I think eggs are highly under appreciated. They have received a bad rap for raising cholesterol, though now many studies are suggesting otherwise. I have a different concern regarding the egg; its quality. Don't worry, I'll keep it short.

Eggs have always been an important component of the small family farm. Hens not only supply a farming family with plenty of tasty, high quality protein, but also with terrific manure to fertilize growing plants, as well as some pest control. But just like dairy and meats, much of our egg production has left the small family farm to be raised by enormous agribusinesses, losing most of the beautiful qualities an honest egg has to offer. Hens no longer roam free to peck at bugs and fill up on grasses, which is what gives an egg it's bright orange yolk and omega-3 fatty acid content. Instead, they are packed into small cages and fed highly un-natural diets, making their yolks and whites pale, unhealthy, and tasteless. No wonder we insist on omelettes overfilled with meats and cheeses, our eggs have no true flavor. I truly believe an omelette should be about the egg, not the huge mess added to it. Eggs (as well as dairy, meats, and good wine), should have flavors reminiscent of the landscape in which they have been raised. There is a beautiful word for this; Terroir. Terroir means "the tastes that emerge from the natural environment where a food is cultivated" (Trubeck, A. Eating Well Magazine; 3 Questions for a Food Anthropologist. August 2008, pg 16). Shouldn't all food follow this rule? On this note, I am begging you to use good eggs. Most store bought, industrially produced eggs are not worth the $1.69 you spend. Yes they are cheap, but for good reason; they offer nothing in flavor or nutrition. Spend $4.00 at your farmers market, or $3.69 for organic, free range eggs. Forgo the hormones and antibiotics. Taste, savour, and support farmers making a difference; not only in protecting diversity and natural landscape, but human health as well. Consider the true cost of a cheap egg, which ultimately exceeds it's cheap price tag. O.k., I'll stop ranting, most of you know me well and have heard this before.

This recipe is very good and easy to prepare. I would say it easily serves 2-4 as a main dish when served with a side of creamy polenta or rice pilaf. A nice loaf of fresh, crusty bread would also be excellent.

Eggs Baked With Tomatoes, Summer Squash, and Red Onions

-1 medium sized red onion, diced small
-3 small summer squash (zucchini, gold bar, crookneck...), cut in half and sliced 1/2 inch thick
-3 medium sized tomatoes, cut into large chunks
-1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
-2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-4 to 5 large, free range, organic eggs
-salt and black pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a heavy 9 inch square ceramic baking dish, layer the diced red onion, squash, tomatoes, and herbs. Toss with the extra virgin olive oil and season with a little salt and black pepper. Place in the oven, covered, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables become tender and the tomatoes have released their liquid. Taste the vegetables and add a little more seasoning if necessary. Crack the eggs into the vegetables, letting them rest right on top (they will settle in as they cook). Place back into the oven, uncovered, and cook until the eggs reach desired doneness; about 15 minutes for a medium cooked egg. Remove from the oven, sprinkle a little fresh salt on the eggs, and serve hot.


Yvette Acord said...

I've made this for dinner twice in the last couple of weeks and loved it. It's so easy and flavorful. And since I have my own hens I always have a plentiful supply of fresh eggs. Last year I took a class from Donald Wessel and he said that the qulity of commercial eggs is so poor that he always has to fortify them with extra protein so they'll hold up in meringues, mousses, and other pastry. So fresh eggs are better from a practical standpoint as well as nutritional. Thanks for all the great recipes. I think my favorite so far is the golden sunshine slaw... have made it at least half a dozen times. The vinaigrette is fabulous on so many other things too. Keep up the great work and please keep everyone posted on your latest production (the baby).

Cory said...

Thanks Yvette, hope all is well. I'll keep you posted about the baby.