Category Archives: Main Dishes

E.A.T Sandwiches with Sun-dried Tomato Aioli

 

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)-6

E.A.T–Egg, avocado, tomato…  Three things I haven’t been able to enjoy for a while now.  I’m at the tail end of a month-long break from a chemo drug that made me lose a crazy amount of weight, and decreased my appetite and tolerance for many of the foods I love–you can imagine how hard this has been based on my clear obsession with food.  Right now, food tastes absolutely magical.  Every time I eat, I feel like I’m in some sort of kaleidoscopic hippie dream.  Whoa man, these flavors are for real!  A month ago, I got down to my lowest weight ever (not a good thing), and I keep a chipper face, because whatever the “normal” of the hour happens to be, I’m going to make it the best damn normal I can.  I’m nervous to be off the medication that has helped me so much, but all I can really worry about is right now; and right now my job is to eat, be, and enjoy the technicolor tastes of all my long lost food friends.

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)

I eat like Van Gogh painted; crazed and unapologetic, making up for lost time.  I’m eating for my life and my health, to add some extra strength and pounds.  My soft-coated wheaten terrier has felt the inconvenience of my increased food intolerances.  She looked on eagerly as I prepared her favorite food, which she hadn’t eaten in a very long time.  Luca, today is a special day, I told her as I fried up the egg with some cracked pepper and fresh thyme.  I found some positively juicy heirloom tomatoes, and layered it all up on toast slathered with sundried tomato aioli, with buttery sliced avocado, fresh arugula, salt, pepper, the egg of course, and a drizzle of tuscan olive oil given to me for my birthday.  

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E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)-4

I crunched through the bread, and when the combination of tomato juices, peppery olive oil, and egg yolk hit my mouth,  it got audible.  Hunched over my counter top, I mumbled expletives between bites, messily devouring in my exploded kitchen (maniacs don’t have time to clean as they go). Luca looked up at the spectacle, waiting expectantly for me to sprinkle a few bits of egg on top of the uneaten food in her dog bowl.  We both ate voraciously, and gratefully.  I don’t know what will happen when I go on my new medication.  I don’t have to care about that right now.  Right now, food is my hot crush and psychedelic escapade, and I’m going on an unapologetic magic carpet ride.

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You can swap ingredients to fit your dietary needs of the moment–use gluten-free bread, or just serve it right on top of the greens like a salad.  You want some cheese?  Slap on some white cheddar, vegan cheese, or whatever will give you your technicolor egg sandwich experience.  You may customize to your heart’s desire, but promise me this: You will eat this E.A.T sandwich voraciously and unapologetically, as if rediscovering something you’ve gone years without.  Knowing that will make my day!  

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E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)

E.A.T Sandwiches with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

This recipe can be customized as you wish, and easily scaled up.  The aioli is easier to blend when made in a larger quantity, and will keep for about a week in the fridge.  It can be used for sandwiches and wraps, or my favorite, on this rosemary tortilla española.  If you’d like to make less,  chop and smash the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and salt into a paste and mix it by hand into the mayonnaise.  It will not be as smooth or deeply colored, but will still taste delicious!

For the aioli:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayo
  • 3 TB finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or sherry vinegar if you have on hand

For the sandwiches:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • leaves from a few sprigs thyme, roughly chopped
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • sliced tomato
  • sliced avocado
  • baby arugula/baby spinach mix, or your choice of greens
  • 2 slices sprouted grain bread, or your favorite sandwich bread
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  1. Make the aioli: Blend all aioli ingredients in an immersion blender, blender, or small food processor until smooth.  Adjust salt and pepper, and lemon juice or vinegar to taste.
  2. Cook the egg: Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Sprinkle a bit of salt, and pepper onto the pan, then crack the egg on top.  Sprinkle the top with the thyme, and a bit more salt and pepper.  Cook for about 4 minutes for over-easy, or 5-6 minutes for over-medium.
  3. While the egg is cooking, toast the bread.  Spread the aioli on the toast, then layer the avocado, tomato on one side, and the  arugula-spinach mix on the other.  Drizzle the olive oil over the greens, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the fried egg on the bread, and serve while hot.

 

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Filed under Breakfast and Brunch, Main Dishes, Sandwiches and Burgers, Sauces, vegetarian, Vegetarian and Vegan

Spring Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with Roasted Garlic-Cauliflower Whip

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This is comfort food with a surprise nutritional kick!  Bam!  Just when you say, “oh I’d better not eat very much of that”, I say “gotcha!”.  There is NOTHING “bad for you” in there.  B-b-but….where’s the heavy cream?  No buttah?!  And that is where I smugly tell you that you can, rather must, eat more and be comforted, without the cloud of self-inflicted guilt over too much of this or that.  These are vegetables people!  Eat, drink and be merry!  My house, my rules.

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These little pies would be perfect for a holiday meal,  Sunday dinner with the family, or any other time you want to see a vegetarian turn helplessly giddy.   This recipe is sans the lamb, of course.  If you have the kind of person at your table that doesn’t consider it a meal without meat, you could go one of two routes: First, entrance them with the balanced flavors of the white wine and tarragon vegetable stew and see if they even give a second thought to the “missing” ingredients—I play this game all the time.  If I’m intently staring at you while you take your first bite, it’s usually because I’ve tricked you in one way or another into eating something healthier and better than you ever expected.

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VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (7 of 25)

If you’re really sure your dinner companion isn’t going to be happy without some meat on his or her plate, you could add a little to the mix. Traditional shepherd’s pie is topped with fluffy mashed potatoes.  My version is crowned with a golden whip of roasted cauliflower and garlic.   Have you ever whipped cauliflower?  To me, it tastes like a more flavorful version of garlic mashed potatoes.  I have nothing against potatoes.  I know some would argue with me on this, but I don’t stress excessively over the naturally occurring starches, sugars, etc in fruits and vegetables.  Obviously, I’m not advocating to eat a truckload of potatoes and nothing else.  The key for me is to vary the types of foods I eat throughout the day and week to make sure that I have a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, and a large variety of fruits and vegetables.

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I’ve been thinking about this because a couple weeks ago, I went to Cancer Con, a young adult cancer conference put on by Stupid Cancer.  I spoke on a panel to 700 people (yikes!) about how I support my mind and body through cancer with nutrition, meditation, yoga and other physical activity.  I also attended a talk with an integrative oncology nutrition specialist.  The speaker, Mark Cohen (a clinical oncology specialist) advocated for eating a diet of a diverse variety of foods that are warm, whole, and cooked.

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I know some are convinced of the benefit of a raw diet, but I know that my body digests foods better and therefore absorbs nutrients more readily when I cook them.  If you eat real food, you don’t need rules, Michael Pollan explains in his book Food Rules.  This philosophy feels right in my gut (pun intended).  It’s not a new idea, but with so many fad diets, with lists of dos but mostly do-nots, it’s easy to get confused.

Spring is officially here, and when the weather inevitably swings toward the cold and damp, I hereby invite you to “indulge” in this veggie loving shepherd’s pie.

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Spring Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with Roasted Garlic-Cauliflower Whip

Stew adapted from Feasting at Home

Makes 4 to 6 Servings (Four two-cup pies or one 8×8 casserole dish)

For the cauliflower whip:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, broken into 1 1/2 inch florets
  • 3 large cloves garlic, in their skins
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2  cup vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons regular or vegan butter

For the stew:

  • 1 lb diced waxy potatoes (yukon gold, red or fingerling)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion or pearl onions
  • 4 cups any combination of the following: diced carrots, celery, fennel and crimini mushrooms (*see footnote for more details)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free (or regular) flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot starch (or use additional flour)
  • 4 cups flavorful vegetable or chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen shelled green peas
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Special Equipment Needed:

Immersion blender, blender, or food processor

2-cup pie dishes or 8×8 casserole

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Cover the potatoes by 1 inch water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add a tablespoon salt to the water.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are on the firmer side of being tender.

Make the Cauliflower Whip:

Toss the cauliflower and garlic in the olive oil, salt and pepper on a large sheet pan.  Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender and deep golden in places.  Pop the garlic out of their skins into a large bowl with the roasted cauliflower (or into a food processor or blender if not using an immersion blender).  While hot, add the vegan butter and stir until melted.  Add the stock and blend using an immersion blender until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Make the stew:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Sauté the onions for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until translucent.  Reduce heat to medium and add the carrot, celery, fennel, mushrooms, and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauté until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Pour in the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze, cooking for about 3 minutes until most of it evaporates.  Add the potatoes, nutritional yeast, and arrowroot starch and flour.  Stir to coat.  Add the stock and mustard, and stir until it comes to a boil and thickens.  Add the peas, tarragon, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Fill the pie dishes or casserole dish with the stew.  Spread the cauliflower whip in a layer on top.

Reduce the oven to 400˚F.  Bake the pies for 20 minutes.  Turn oven on low broil, and cook an additional 5-6 minutes until the top is spotted a deep golden color (watch closely while broiling to avoid burning).  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Freezing directions:

Spoon the stew into an oven safe, freezer safe dish and top with potatoes.  Cover with saran wrap and put inside a large freezer bag.  When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator for 2 days.  Bake in a 400˚oven for about 30 minutes until hot and bubbling.  Broil the top over low for 5 minutes to achieve a speckled golden top.

 

*Note: I used 3 large carrots, 2 large ribs celery, 1 medium fennel bulb and about 3 oz crimini mushrooms.

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Filed under Main Dishes, vegetarian, Vegetarian and Vegan

Tangerine-Port Cranberry Sauce

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We all have our food quirks.  The Mister likes to figure out the best flavor combination on any given plate, then repeat that experience as many times as possible.  Salads are evenly tossed and big ingredients chopped up so that each bite has the optimized flavor.

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I once ate dinner with a girl who had a phobia of her foods touching each other.  We were at an Asian restaurant.  Plain shrimp, plain vegetables, plain rice.  No sauce, not even soy.  Each part of the meal was eaten by itself, before moving on   I kind of wanted to put a carrot slice on her rice, just to see what would happen, but I figured that was a bit immature.  Phobias ain’t no joke.  I’m the mixing queen.  I like to see how many unique combinations of flavors I can put into each bite.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Tomatillo-Veggie (or Chicken) Posole

TomatilloPosole|Spoonwithme.com

I broke out my fall garb this week, and taught my students a valuable lesson while wearing a cozy wrap/scarf that the mister got for me in Amsterdam.  A scarf is just a socially acceptable way to wear a blanket to work or school.  You’ll see me wearing a lot of “scarves” in the coming days.  The Dutch have a specific word for all things cozy, inviting, friendly and warm: gezellig.  It’s one of those words that has no English translation.  Picture a cool misty fall day.  Gezellig is arriving home from work and snuggling up in a cozy knit blanket with a cup of tea, a book, and your favorite furry companion (canine, feline, or hey, even human).  It’s huddling around a fire with friends, steaming mugs of soup in hand. The leaves are swirling around, and it’s hinting at frost.  It’s gezellig time, so I thought I’d share my favorite after-work gezellig I meal to spread a bit o’ the cozy.  If everyone were just a bit more gezellig, the world would be a happier place.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Soups and Stews

Vegetarian Sloppy Jens

VegetarianSloppyJens@Spoonwithme.com (17 of 17)

When I was a kid, my room was a fire hazard. An obstacle course. A disability claim waiting to happen.  A pig sty, so my parents said.  I was always creating something—well not something, but some things.  Not much has changed.  For better or worse, my brain seems to have been crossed with that of a hummingbird.  Oh look a flower, oh look, another flower!  Another, whee!  Clean your room, they would say.  I would try.  I really would, but then I’d pick up a long lost object that I had been missing for a long time.  Before I knew it, I was elbows deep in a masterpiece.  When mom came up to check on my progress, I’d already be creating my next mess.

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This post is dedicated to all the messies out there.  Sure, we’re fully functional adults now, but that doesn’t mean it’s always pretty.  For all you who are shocked and surprised, Oh dear, how dreadful!  We thought her house was as tidy as those pictures she always posts! , I’m sorry to disillusion you.  My house explodes every time I create something.  As I stand back to admire my creation, it takes a few moments before “Holy cow, who made such a mess?!?  enters my brain.  It takes a whole lot of messy to make pretty.

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VegetarianSloppyJens@Spoonwithme.com (9 of 17)

VegetarianSloppyJens@Spoonwithme.com (10 of 17)

Through the years, my messes have evolved. And so, we arrive at Sloppy Jens. They’re just as messy as the one-note ones you had as a kid, but built from clean, flavorful ingredients.  When I was making these, I was so seduced by the smell of sautéed fennel, onion and garlic that I didn’t notice the ragtag village of ingredients that had taken up residence on the counters.  The perfect kshhh sound of the deglazing vermouth and the aromatic puff of steam that rose from the pan completely distracted me from the mounting tangle of camera equipment, reflector boards and produce scraps.  When I popped open a quart of last summer’s canned garden tomatoes and slow simmered the sauce with fresh oregano from the garden, it was all over.  Mise en place was a cause lost to another recipe, on another day.

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Messy counters mean good things to come.  If you stop by my house unannounced, you probably won’t marvel at the unscathed majesty of my abode, but chances are, you’ll leave full and happy!

VegetarianSloppyJens@Spoonwithme.com

Vegetarian Sloppy Jens

Serves 6-8

These messy little sandwiches are an Italian, vegetarian spin on a childhood favorite, and most definitely require a fork and knife!   This would make a good hearty meatless sauce over pasta as well. 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, finely chopped, greens reserved
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 12 ounces frozen veggie crumbles (I like Quorn brand)
  • 1 12-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (or about 6 cups home canned)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Microgreens, spinach, or arugula for topping
  • Buns (sprouted grain, gluten-free, or your favorite)

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or saucepan.  Add the onion, fennel and celery, and sauté until soft but not browned, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add the vermouth, and scrape the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Allow most of the liquid to evaporate, about one minute.  Add the veggie crumbles and sauté until cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Add the rinsed beans, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, salt and crushed red pepper.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar.  Season to taste with more salt if needed.

Toast the buns in the toaster, or on a baking sheet in an oven under the broiler.  They will toast in about 30 seconds in the broiler, so keep a close eye on them!  If you like both sides toasted, bake them directly on the oven rack in a 350˚ oven for a few minutes.

Generously spoon the filling onto the buns, and top with greens, if desired.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Sandwiches and Burgers, Vegetarian and Vegan

Lemony Steam-Roasted Artichokes with Garlic and Cherry Tomatoes

Steam Roasted Artichokes|Spoonwithme.com

I first saw an artichoke plant while wandering through a botanical garden in Spain.  Have you ever seen one?  Quite a prickly beast, and I do mean beast!  Since then, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of growing my own, even though Colorado isn’t exactly known for artichokes.  I’m cornering off a little–okay–sizable corner of my garden for the beast to expand.  I dream of little shop of horrors style plants, arms reaching out, prickly mouths open wide.

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Eating an artichoke is a religious experience.  Don’t talk to me, and don’t give me a napkin.  Just let me pluck and dip and scrape and savor.  They make me so food-protective that I have to make more than anyone in my household could ever eat in a night.  Here’s your artichoke (if you don’t eat it all, I’ll finish it off), and here are my artichokes.  You may have all the aioli you would like (I made an inhuman amount so that you would not eat my share.

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Back in the day, I started making artichokes the way most do, by boiling them in salted water (play disappointing music here).  Why would I want to infuse my artichoke with nothing?  Then, I steamed them in water with lemons and garlic.  Meh.  The first time I roasted an artichoke, I thought, Now we’re talking!.  

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My newest method involves roasting the artichokes face down with a garlicky olive oil mixture, and then pouring enough white wine or vermouth into the bottom of the pan to steam the artichokes at the same time.  The artichokes become more tender, and in the end, that means more artichoke to eat!  I hope you enjoy luxuriously plucking, dipping, scraping, and savoring as much as I do.

Steam Roasted Artichokes|Spoonwithme.com

 White Wine Steam-Roasted Artichokes With Garlic and Cherry Tomatoes

  • 2 large artichokes
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (about a cup), halved if large
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine (or dry vermouth, or broth)
  • 1/3 cup additional water or broth
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried italian herb mixture
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Prepare the artichokes:

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the juice of one of the lemons, about 2 tablespoons.  Cut off the top inch of one artichoke, and the bottom of the stem, leaving an inch or so of the stem intact.  Using kitchen scissors, cut off the tips of the leaves.  Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise.  Place one half in the acidulated water while you work with the remaining artichoke.

On a cutting board, smash the garlic and  one teaspoon of the salt into a paste using the side of a chefs knife.  Put the garlic paste into a small bowl.  Juice one of the remaining lemons into the bowl.  Cut off the peel of the remaining lemon (top and bottom first, then cut off the sides in sheets, making sure to remove the white pith).  Chop the peeled lemon, discarding the seeds, and add to the bowl.  Add the olive oil, dried herbs, crushed red pepper, and a few grindings of black pepper.  Whisk everything together.

Rub every surface of each artichoke half with the garlic oil mixture, making sure to push some of it in between the leaves.  Arrange the artichokes face down in a dutch oven (a roasting pan or casserole dish will work too).  Scatter the cherry tomatoes over top, and use your fingers to toss them around, trying to coat them with some of the oil mixture that has settled in the pan.  Pour the white wine or vermouth into the bottom of the pan along with the additional 1/3 cup broth or water.

Roast, covered, in the oven at 375˚F for 35-45 minutes, or until the outside leaves easily pull away from the artichoke.

Serve with lemon-garlic aioli or your other favorite dipping sauce.

Lemon-Garlic (Cheater’s) Aioli

Sometimes (okay, rarely), I go through the extra effort to make real aioli.  Most of the time, I start with a good quality mayo and go from there.  This is just one of my go-to combinations for artichokes.  If you like spicy aioli,  chile-garlic paste.   If you just want a little spice, garnish the top with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (use vegan mayo if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced and smashed into a paste (or finely grated, or pushed through a garlic press)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1-3 teaspoons Sambal Oelek (chile garlic paste)*, or 1/8 tsp-1/2 tsp ground cayenne

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with cayenne if desired.

*Sambal Oelek can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores

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Filed under Appetizers, Condiments, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

6:00 Asparagus with Toasted Ciabatta and Creamy Eggs

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Midnight asparagus?  Who am i kidding?  Midnight is as mysterious and unfathomable as a unicorn between the months of August and May.  Perhaps I should back up a bit to say that I based this recipe on the Splendid Table’s Midnight asparagus.  Tonight, and most nights, it’s more like, “it’s 6:00 on a wed and I just got home from a meeting and a day full to the brim with bouncy spring-fevered kids” asparagus.  You other teachers out there know exactly what I’m talking about!

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Hence, my version, 6:00 asparagus.  It comes together in a snap when you feel like eating but not cooking.  Toasted ciabatta, creamy eggs, cracked pepper, and roasty asparagus, all speared together with a piece of ciabatta to dab up the runny yolk that creates the sauce.

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I think we all should have recipes that come together this easily to lure us, if only briefly, to the kitchen after a long day at work!

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6:00 Asparagus with Toasted Ciabatta and Creamy Eggs

Adapted from the Splendid Table’s Midnight Asparagus

  • 1 bunch pencil thin asparagus, about 12 oz
  • 1/2 medium red onion, halved peeled, and cut into 1/4 inch wedges
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 medium lemon, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 eggs (or as many as you’d like to serve)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 crusty loaf bread, such as ciabatta, cut into 1 inch slices

Preheat broiler on high, and set an oven rack to the highest position.  On a rimmed nonstick baking sheet, toss together the asparagus, onion,  garlic and lemon with the olive oil.  Add a couple of generous pinches kosher salt and some grindings of black pepper to taste.  Spread everything out on the pan into a single layer.

Broil on high 4 inches from the top of the oven for about 4-5 minutes, until starting to brown and crisp-tender.  Remove from the broiler.  Push the vegetables to the sides, and crack the eggs onto the pan, wherever they will fit around the asparagus.  Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper.  Put the ciabatta into the oven to toast.  Broil the eggs and asparagus for 1-2 minutes longer, until eggs are cooked to your desired doneness (keep in mind that the eggs will continue to cook once removed from the oven. 1 minute eggs will be runny, and 2 minute eggs will be more set).  Squeeze the lemons over the asparagus.  Serve hot on the toasted ciabatta slices.

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Filed under Breakfast and Brunch, Main Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan