Kitchen Intuition: Put an egg on it

Authored By aliceodea

There are two good reasons people might have a lot of eggs at this particular time of year. One is because they bought a lot of them for Easter and didn’t use them up. The other is that we’re right at the beginning of fresh egg season, and devotees are eagerly adding egg cartons to their farmers market baskets whenever they appear. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to truly appreciate a farm-fresh egg, you’ll probably get in line, too, as eggs from the farm are superior in just about every category: nutrition, animal well-being, shelf life, safety, color and texture. Perhaps those qualities just make us think that they taste better, or maybe they really do, but certainly the overall experience is superior.

Michael Ruhlman, “Ruhlman’s Twenty”

“Many dishes are improved by the addition of an egg. A salad becomes a meal when you put an egg on it. Cooked asparagus spears are a welcome side dish; put a poached egg on top, and they become a main dish. Raw or lightly cooked egg yolk is a ready-made sauce. An egg poached in tomato sauce transforms that sauce into a main course (serve it on a piece of toasted bread with a side of sautéed spinach). A steak or burger, a sandwich, a pizza, a soup, a stew-every category of dish is transformed by the addition of an egg. Put another way, if you have an egg and one other ingredient, a last-minute meal can be moments away.”

But no matter how you ended up with so many eggs, my suggestion for using them up is to simply put an egg on something. When you do, that thing will instantly be transformed into a meal-a really delicious and nutritious one at that. The possibilities are endless; either mix up something quick (a sandwich or salad, perhaps), or drag some leftovers out of the refrigerator-some bread, pasta, pizza, quinoa, polenta, grits, soup, stew, beans or vegetables-and put an egg on it. Yum. Dinner is ready.

Cook the eggs however you like them best-boiled, poached, fried, scrambled or otherwise. It’s all tasty and an incredibly cheap protein as well. According to Andrea Slonecker in “Eggs on Top,” even most high-quality, organic, free-range, vegetarian, farm-fresh eggs “factor out to no more than 60 cents apiece.” Except for maybe beans, I don’t think there is a cheaper source of quality protein, even if you do buy really expensive eggs.

If you want your meal to have a sauce, just let the yolk stay a little soft when you cook it so it will be on the runny side. Then, when you stick your fork in it, all that yolky goodness will trickle out, mix with the other things on your plate and make everything better. On the other hand, if you have firmly boiled eggs, you can crumble them into small bits that can be sprinkled over salads, or cut them into slices to slip into a sandwich or garnish just about anything.

This is a great option for breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you have leftovers to heat up, you can have the whole meal ready in the time it takes to cook an egg; and depending on what you put it on, it can be low-calorie, low-carb or gluten-free. Eggs are just starting to show up at the local farmers markets, and even if you can’t make it to one of those, you should be able to find a farm that sells directly to consumers. Listings for either one can be found here or here. Feel free to just make up your own combinations-there are no rules here; if it sounds good to you, then have at it! And if you need inspiration, take a look at Instagram’s hashtag #PutAnEggOnIt (which I discovered thanks to NPR). Enjoy!

Alice O’Dea has lived in Chattanooga for over 20 years, but was raised among the mucks and dairy farms in rural western New York. She didn’t really learn to cook until midlife. When she’s not puttering around in the kitchen, she enjoys running, cycling, traveling, photography and trying to get food to grow in the backyard of her Highland Park home. You can email her with questions, suggestions or comments at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not or its employees.