Last week, when I was working from home one day, I felt those familiar mid-day hunger twinges. I’ve been trying to be very good about eating up whatever is I have on hand, so I did a little “fridge foraging” as I like to call it and came up with the ingredients to make Eggs Cooked in Spicy Tomato Sauce. What was helpful for this little project was that I had a random selection of leftovers. I really love leftovers and have never understood anyone who won’t eat them. Some of my best creations have come from throwing together various bits of previous meals. Of course, it did also help that this time around I had peppers and Tomato Sauce from my No-Knead Pizza Dough party, eggs (which I usually try to have on hand), and a piece of the incredibly delicious M’smen Bread from Hot Bread Kitchen.
I became hooked on this flat, crepe-like bread when I tried it one day at the Union Square Greenmarket, where they have a stand a couple of days a week. They also sell a version stuffed with things like ramps, onions, and/or cheese, which is what I’d picked up on a whim and had in my fridge, and it was the perfect “platter” for this meal. That little plastic container in the front of the photo is the ringer for pulling this dish together. A leftover tub of harissa from an expedition to a Turkish restaurant in my neighborhood. Isn’t it amazing what you can find lurking on the shelves? This simple dish, perfect for a quick lunch or dinner has some of my favorite flavor components: soft, buttery, doughy bread topped with a creamy egg surrounded by tangy-sweet, comforting tomato sauce and pepper with a bit of a kick and slow-release heat from the harissa. I might even have to start planning to have leftovers on purpose so that I can make this again and again.
Eggs Cooked in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Prep Time: 30 minutes, if that
Serving Size: This is a recipe for 1 person, but can easily be expanded
1 piece M’smen Bread (or flat bread)
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1/4 c. Marinated Red Peppers, drained and sliced
1/3 c. Easy Tomato Sauce
1/2 tsp. Harissa (or to taste)
Heat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Put bread on a tray and heat it up while putting together the rest of the dish.
Pour olive oil into small, shallow pan and warm it up over low heat for about 30 seconds.
Put the marinated red peppers and any spices from the jar into the pan. Warm up for 30 seconds. The spices from the peppers and the tomato sauce will season this dish.
Pour the tomato sauce into the pan with the peppers and oil and stir to mix together. Warm up the mixture for another 30 seconds.
Add harissa to the tomatoes and peppers in the pan. Stir it into the peppers and tomato sauce to incorporate it and let it cook for another 30 seconds. The mixture should begin to have a fragrant, acidic and spicy aroma from the various ingredients. I did not add any extra seasoning in this dish as every one of these three items was seasoned when it was prepared. You can use your own judgement and personal tastes about that.
Crack the egg into a bowl. I find that, when adding an egg into the cooking pan, it is easier to have it in a small, shallow bowl rather than to try to crack it directing into the pan. This is also a better method in the event of any errant bits of shell falling into the cracked egg as then you can fish it out before putting the egg into the cooking pan.
Create a well with the sauce, leave a space in the middle of the pan. Gently pour the egg into the well, trying to get the yolk in the center of the pan inasmuch as is possible. When I made this dish, this was an exception, as I almost never get the yolk in the center of the pan. For some reason, it decided to cooperate with me for this posting project.
Cook the egg in the sauce for about 4-5 minutes over medium to low heat, until the egg white has set completely and the sauce has created a thick nest around it. I like my yolks a bit firmer, so about 3 minutes into the process, I put a lid over the pan and left it for a minute to steam. Then, I took the lid off the pan and let everything cook for about 30 seconds more. Turn off the oven and remove the bread during the last few minutes while the egg and sauce are cooking.
Place the bread on a plate for serving. It should be glistening and completely warmed through.
Spoon up the tomato sauce from the pan and place it in a ring around the edge of the bread. Delicately lift up the cooked egg and place it in the center of the sauce ring. If you are expanding this dish to make it for more people, make sure to allow for enough sauce (about 1/4-1/3 cup) per person so that there is ample to create this nest around the egg.
I think the presentation of this dish with its dramatic color contrasts and the exotic perfume from the tomato-pepper-harissa mix is enough to brighten anyone’s day. Cutting into the egg yolk, part creamy, part runny, letting it hit the tart-hot sauce and sopping up all that flavor with the buttery, flaky bread is just a beautiful contrast of flavors and textures making your mouth very, very happy. The bread really is a key to this dish with its layered texture. With the m’smen stuffed with onions and cheese there’s an additional grassy and tangy dairy note in the dish, too, which made it a little extra special for a mid-day meal
Kitchen Witch Tip:
As with the instructions on How to poach an Egg, use the freshest possible eggs for this dish, preferably ones from a farmers’ market, as those are likely to be only a few days old. You can see the results in the photos from how beautifully the yolk set up in the white with this egg. (It is not a stunt egg, by the way.) I used the fabulous ones from Millport Dairy, available at the Greenmarket.