If you've got an egg in the house, you've got a meal in the house, Elizabeth David once said. And that's for sure - as sure as, well, eggs is eggs.
Eggs are must-haves in the stand-by stakes. If you have a dozen eggs to hand, you have the makings of a whole gamut of meals and snacks.
It doesn't take much to turn eggs into a meal. Poached, scrambled, baked, boiled or fried, they can be happily devoured for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Omelettes are a no-brainer for a quick midweek meal, and we also love soft-boiled eggs scooped out onto sourdough toast, topped with a pile of paper-thin slices of jamón and drizzled with Sherry vinegar and olive oil. Eggs can be stirred into soups to thicken and enrich them; Italy's stracciatella is a classic example.
Egg yolks are the base for many indispensable sauces - little beats homemade mayo (which is surprisingly speedy to make) or rich custard for puddings, and of course lush hollandaise to spoon on poached eggs for egg-on-egg pleasure.
Chicken and egg soup
Sauté ½ thinly sliced Spanish onion and 2 finely chopped garlic cloves in 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan until softened (4-5 minutes). Add 750ml chicken stock, 1 skinless chicken breast, 3 thyme sprigs and a fresh bay leaf. Simmer until chicken is just cooked (6-7 minutes), remove, shred and return to stock (discard herbs). Add ½ bunch torn kale and simmer until wilted (2-3 minutes). Whisk 3 eggs in a bowl with the finely grated rind of 1 lemon and juice of ½, season then, stirring continuously, add egg to soup and stir until thickened. Serve soup scattered with thyme and flat-leaf parsley.
Tomato-baked eggs with feta
Preheat oven to 180C. Sauté ½ finely chopped Spanish onion, 1 thinly chopped garlic clove and 1 finely sliced long red chilli in a frying pan with 2 tbsp olive oil until translucent (4-5 minutes). Add 400gm canned cherry tomatoes, 400gm rinsed canned white beans and 250ml chicken or vegetable stock, season to taste and simmer until slightly thickened. Press 4 indents in the sauce with the back of a large spoon, crack an egg into each, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and bake until eggs are cooked to your liking (8-10 minutes for soft yolks and firm whites). Stand for 5 minutes, scatter with crumbled feta, torn mint and flat-leaf parsley and serve with toasted sourdough and lemon wedges.
Fried egg and chorizo taco
Serves 1 as a snack or light meal
Sauté ½ thinly sliced Spanish onion and ½ diced chorizo in 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan until onion is tender and chorizo is golden brown (4-5 minutes). Stir in ½ finely chopped garlic clove, cook until fragrant, then tip onto a plate. Heat another 1 tbsp oil in the pan, crack in 2 eggs, scatter with chorizo mixture, season and fry until eggs are cooked to your liking (2-3 minutes for firm white and soft yolks). Heat 2 tortillas in a frying pan over high heat (1-2 minutes) and wrap in a tea towel to steam until the eggs are ready, then fill with eggs, coriander, chopped cherry tomatoes and chilli sauce and serve with lime wedges.
Kale and Gruyère omelette
Sauté 1 cup baby kale in a frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil and a knob of butter until wilted, adding 2 tsp thyme and ½ finely chopped garlic clove at the end (2-3 minutes). Tip onto a plate, wipe out pan and add another 1 tbsp oil and knob of butter. Whisk 6 eggs in a bowl to combine, season and, when butter foams, tip into pan. Draw egg towards the centre, tipping pan slightly to allow uncooked egg to run into the space, until just cooked (2-3 minutes). Scatter with 50gm grated Gruyère and kale, slide onto a warmed plate, rolling omelette over as you go, and serve.
- When a recipe calls for eggs at room temperature, take them out a couple of hours ahead, or put them in a bowl of hot water for 20 minutes.
- Oddly, fresh isn't always best when it comes to eggwhite; older eggwhites are better when whisking and aeration are involved. Keep fresh ones in an airtight container at room temperature for a day before using, or freeze them in ice-cube trays and defrost when needed.
Looking for more things to do with eggs? Check out our slideshow of egg recipes.