Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Brunch--Eggs in a Nest of Summer Vegetables

I was leaving on vacation for a few days but thanks to my compulsive food shopping my refrigerator was full of fresh produce--fruits and vegetables are at their more appetizing peak, so I could not resist buying them in mass quantities. I realized that unfortunately they would get spoiled by the time we would come back. As I went through the content of the refrigerator shelves I wondered what to cook on this last day to use as much produce as possible. And it seemed like I was almost able to throw a small party. I thought about freezing some of the freshest vegetables and from the rest--peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, onions, and eggs--make something light for a Sunday brunch.

Serving eggs for Sunday brunch has been our family tradition for as long as I can remember. This was fully justified when my grandmother was breeding her own hens and organic eggs were always in reach. Those were the days. We ate eggs in omelets, soft- or hard-boild, or most often scrambled or fried. And scrambled eggs were made in many seasonal variations. In the fall, we made them with chantarelles, which are still my favorite version. In the winter, we enriched them with bacon. When some of my younger aunts were visiting us we were experimenting in the kitchen and made summer scrambled eggs with tomatoes, fresh peppers, and onions. In the spring, we fried them just on butter and served with young chives.

Many years ago I wrote down in my notebook this egg recipe and have forgotten about it for some time. When more recently I made it once for a brunch, it was a big success with my guests, because some of them were vegetarian. In today's recipe I also use prosciutto, as it is one of my leftovers from the refrigerator, but this dish can be made with vegetables only.

Eggs in a Nest of Vegetables

2 eggs per person, 8 altogether,
2 large ripe tomatoes,chopped or one can fire roasted tomatoes,
1 green or yellow pepper cut into stripes,
1 bunch asparagus,1 medium onion,cut in half and sliced,
1/4 cup chopped parsley,
4 slices prosciutto,chopped,salt and freshly ground pepper to taste,a pinch of sweet paprika,
3 tbsps olive oil.

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan.
3. Put onion (in slices) and fry until transparent.
4. Add pepper and cook with onion for about 1 minute.
5. Cut from the end of asparagus about 1/4 of the length .The rest cut in 1 inch long sticks and add to the tomatoes mixture.
6. Cook everything for about another 5 minutes, at the end add cut prosciutto.
7. Butter small, individual ovenproof dishes.
8. Divide vegetables among four dishes, arrange them in nests (to put the eggs in).
9. Break two eggs and place them in the middle of each dish, season with salt, pepper and paprika.
10. Put dishes in the oven and bake them until the eggs are set, i.e., for about 20 minutes, depending on how you like the eggs to be done.
11. Decorate with parsley and serve warm with fresh European whole wheat bread.

There is a whole array of breads we eat in Europe. Polish bread is most often made of rye flour or whole wheat flour, and are based on yest leaven. In the US, this kind of bread can be found in Polish or German bakeries. It is different than, for example French bread, which is typically made of wheat flour and yeast, as opposed to leaven.