I'm not one of those people who love breakfast, but I do truly appreciate the power of the humble egg. With the exception perhaps of bananas, eggs are presented in the most perfect package nature provides. They cook quickly. They are versatile. They have just enough flavor to stand on their own, yet combine with other flavors wonderfully. Best of all, the egg is one of the most affordable sources of high-quality protein. Here are some of my favorite ways to take advantage of the nutritional and financial benefits of eggs. Most are probably obvious, but maybe you'll pick up a new idea or be inspired to save some money by making a meal around eggs more often.
Breakfast Tacos are a staple food item in my opinion. For two soft tacos, it only takes one scrambled egg when you combine it with other ingredients to make a nutritious and portable breakfast. Again, I use what I have on hand and quickly microwave or sauté as needed: spinach, zucchini slices, bell pepper, tomato, potato, onion, black beans, cheese, rice, bacon, sausage. I've even pulled a few frozen French fries from the bag! You don't need much of any one ingredient. Just roll 'em all up in warmed tortillas with salsa or a sprinkle of hot sauce.Scrambled Eggs and Omelets are perfect for using up small bits of leftover cheese, vegetables and meats or smoked fish. One of my favorite omelets uses broccoli-I simply thaw a few frozen florets in the microwave or in a bowl of warm water, and then chop it up-along with onion and cheese.
Dress up the cooked omelet by drizzling with a little sour cream mixed with lemon juice. I also love scrambled eggs with a bit of neufchâtel cheese and flakes of smoked salmon. (In most of our stores you can buy just a small amount of smoked salmon from the full-service seafood case.)Fried Rice is another one of those catch-all, use-up-the-leftovers meal. But somehow it seems more like a special dish than a cop out. Learn to make it well with the desirable texture and seasoning. It usually starts by cooking a thin crepe-type layer of beaten egg that is removed from the wok or pan, rolled up and sliced into strips that you will toss back into the dish just before serving. Yum.An Egg Sandwich can be as simple as a fried egg between toast, as mainstream as a homemade version of the fast food muffin sandwich or as sophisticated as the open-faced, fork-and-knife Eggs Benedict. Recently, I made a sandwich of sliced hard-boiled egg with tomato and basil from my garden and a little mayo on toast. And don't forget egg salad, especially with a few leaves of flavorful arugula or crisp lettuce.Pasta dishes can use eggs in a variety of ways. There's pasta salad with hard-cooked egg, raw eggs cooked into Pasta Carbonara and egg yolk used to thicken some other pasta sauces. I'm partial to finely chopped hard-cooked egg as a condiment for pasta with pesto. Offer other self-serve condiments, too, such as chopped olives, tomatoes and nuts. A really fun, filling and budget-friendly meal, even for company!
Quiche and Deviled Eggs are true budget friends for parties and potlucks. People love them so much they would never even think about how little money you spent on your contribution to the gathering. And you can come up with some really delish additions to these that will make them seem even more special. For example, I really enjoy the pleasant surprise on people's faces when they discover I use a dash of pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) on my deviled eggs instead of the usual plain paprika that seems to only add color. Get creative!Salad is made more filling when hard-cooked egg is chopped and tossed in or left in halves for a nice presentation. Caesar salad dressing mashes boiled egg or whisks in raw egg to "cook" in the lemony dressing. We make a meal of Caesar Salad in my house with some pita toasted with olive oil and Parmesan on the side instead of croutons in the salad.Got any egg-cellent ideas of your own? I'm sure you do. Let's hear 'em!