Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sauteed Kale and Baked Eggs


I don’t know whether the last 18 months or so will stand out in my memory for being so odd, or if some self-defense mechanism will cause me to shut them out forever. Either way, I hope that come next spring, I remember that it’s a good idea to plant kale in my backyard garden. The Red Russian variety that I planted early didn’t seem like it was going to do much when just a few seeds germinated and then, as it warmed up, the insects moved in. My little bed of kale was resilient, however, and I now have more than enough to eat. More than enough for those recipes that call for seemingly impossible armloads of the stuff.



I didn’t actually start with one of those recipes for this dish, but one contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi (the absolute monarch of fabulous vegetable dishes) for Bon Appetit magazine. This original recipe called for lots of spinach instead of kale. Since the kale worked well even though it is much less delicate than spinach, I think you could use whatever variety of greens you have available whether from the supermarket, farmer’s market or, growing well in your garden.

This recipe basically involves sautéing mounds of greens with onions (I added garlic to mine), then creating little nests within the greens to crack open an egg. The whole thing goes into the oven to bake the eggs, then it is served with a drizzle of chile oil. The original recipe called for a dollop of garlic-flavored Greek yogurt as well, but all I had was vanilla yogurt, so I replaced it with sour cream. (I failed to photograph the dish with the sour cream on it, so you’ll just have to imagine it.) Really, if you want things to be simpler, you could save some time by eliminating the chile oil or the sour cream as accompaniments.


I highly recommend at least pulling out a carton of sour cream or plain yogurt for serving this, however, even if you don’t want to take the time flavor it with a garlic-salt paste like I did. The cool and creamy contrast is wonderful with the eggs and kale. I made the chile-infused olive oil with a fresh red chile pepper (also prolific in my garden). It was simple to do and adds just a hint of pure hot spice to the dish when drizzled on a serving. (If you bite into a piece of chile, however, it is more likely to be very spicy.)

I love sautéed greens, especially with garlic, and baking eggs in a bed of greens is really a nice, simple way to make a complete meal out of them. The eggs are neutral but rich and allow the hearty, slightly bitter kale (actually, my Red Russian kale is still more tangy than bitter despite the heat in which it’s been growing), onions, garlic, and spice from the chiles in the finishing oil to provide the main flavors and a lighter texture. And as I said, the garlicky sour cream that I added was a delicious contrast.




Sauteed Kale with Baked Eggs
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine

This recipe is a basic method that could be made with a variety of greens and accompaniments.

½ cup sour cream
2 large garlic cloves, divided
¾ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small chile pepper, thinly sliced
½ cup sliced onion
8-10 cups chopped kale leaves, stems removed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 large eggs 

1. Place the sour cream in a small bowl. Chop ½ clove garlic. Sprinkle the chopped garlic with about ¼ teaspoon coarse salt. Continue to chop and press the garlic and salt into a slightly rough chopping surface to create a smooth paste as described in this post.  Stir the garlic-salt paste into the sour cream. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

2. In a small saucepan, pour 3 tablespoons olive oil. Heat over medium-low heat until hot and shimmering. Add the chile pepper and sizzle for about 2 minutes. (If the chile begins to brown before 2 minutes, remove from heat.) Remove from the heat and let stand until ready to serve.

3. Preheat oven to 300 F. Chop the remaining 1 ½ cloves garlic. Set aside.

4. Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil into a 10-inch (or larger) oven-proof skillet. (I used cast iron.) Heat over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and sauté about 5 minutes or until soft and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

 5. Add the kale, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and lemon juice. If the kale does not fit in your skillet (which is quite likely) add it to the skillet a little at a time, adding more as it cooks down. Cook about 10 minutes or until all the kale is wilted and softened. Remove from the heat.


6. Smooth out the surface of the cooked kale and make 4 evenly-spaced indentations. Crack each egg into one of the indentations. Bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes or until the eggs are done. The whites should be set and no longer transparent. Serve each egg on a bed of kale. Drizzle with the chile oil and top with a few dollops of the garlic-infused sour cream.

Makes 2 large or 4 medium servings.


Another recipe like this one: Potato and Celeriac Casserole with Baked Eggs

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