Baked Eggs with Wilted Arugula & Balsamic Glazed Onions

Eggs are one of the standby staples of my diet. They are essentially nature’s perfect food: ultra low in calories, full of protein, and all kinds of other essential minerals. It is no mere happenstance that the contents of an egg feed the young chicklets waiting to hatch. Nature’s design has made sure they are perfectly nutritive for those that need the most nourishing.

As far as preparation goes, Baking is by far my favorite way. Baked eggs have some of the best attributes of other egg preparation. The whites develop a fluffy, pillowy texture that you otherwise only find in perfectly poached eggs, yet the edges can still be cooked to crisp up like a country egg fried in freshly churned butter. Even more exciting is the potential for deliciously runny yolks so ideal for mopping up. When eggs are baked properly, the whites set just so, leaving the yolks perched on the pillowiness of a savoury base, quivering for the pendent puncture of a tine to free them to drip sumptuously through whatever may make their flavorful bed. A better egg than a baked one is unlikely to be found.

Yet, somehow, this amazing method is relatively unknown. I actually only thought about it sometime last year, after I stumbled upon a Mario Batali recipe for an Italian Classic called Uova in Purgatorio, or eggs in purgatory. Even though he doesn’t call for baking in his recipe, I discovered many variations of it do indeed require baking, and find that it really improves the end product. The brininess of the olives, together with the sweet flavor of the caramelized onions, and the spicy heat all tied together in the rich tomato base make this recipe a true Sunday breakfast delight. Everyone should try it. After all, if it started an egg baking revolution with me, who knows what it might inspire for you?

Shortly thereafter, my fondness for baked eggs was set when, Ms. Weiss, at the Wednesday Chef, revealed a recipe from a New York Times piece on a restaurant closer to my neighborhood, where someday I’d love to dine, which serves a slightly more French variation on the baked egg theme: eggs baked with leeks and cream. This brunch staple is a fantastic crowd pleaser, and really, quite a healthy plate too. It gives the eggs in purgatory a run for their money, especially on account of being so much lighter and more sprightly in its flavors.

But, it has already gotten plenty of attention elsewhere on the interwebs, so I thought I’d share a recipe of my own for baked eggs with you instead.

Arugula, otherwise known as rocket, is at the top of my list of leafy greens. I really savour the peppery kick it has near the end of a bite – the taste is nigh on mustardy. That spicy bite so characteristic of arugula has always inspired me to dress it with just a drizzle of the slightly sweet tang of a good balsamico. The contrast of the peppery leaves with the sweetness of the balsamico compliment each other perfectly. Throw in a few shavings of a nice ripe grana, and you’ve got a real treat. The flavors of this salad, spurred by my fledgling love for baked eggs inspired me in this recipe.

The dish begins with caramelizing some onions in a large sauté pan, then glazing them with a little kiss of balsamico. Then, just a hint of garlic and chili are added to round out the flavors. Finally, arugula is added to the pan, and cooked until it just begins to wilt. This spicy-sweet leafy base forms a bed for the eggs. The whole pan is covered, and put in the oven to bake until the whites just set, and the yolks are still golden and runny.

/>Baked Eggs with Wilted Arugula & Balsamic Glazed Onions

  • 6 – 8 eggs
  • 1 medium to large onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 fresh, hot, red pepper (as usual, I use my favorite, the fresno pepper)
  • a large bowl of arugula (about 3/4 to a full bag of the prewashed bagged sort)
  • about 3 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, or just enough to coat the caramelized onions
  • half tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup shaved grana chese (parmigiano, grana padano, any sort will do)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

Begin by halving the onion, then slicing it thinly.

Cut the garlic clove into thin slivers, and do the same with the hot pepper.

Heat a large sauté pan with tall sides on medium. Add the olive oil and allow it to warm. While the oil is heating, wash and dry the arugula. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the butter, and let it melt, making sure it does not burn.

Once the butter is melted, and beginning to bubble, add the sliced onions to the pan.

Sauté the onions over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until their edges really start to brown and crisp up, and they start to look and smell deliciously caramelized. My oven normally takes about 10 minutes to heat to 400F, so I typically turn it on about 10-15 minutes into cooking the onions. Preheat yours to 400 accordingly.

Once the onions are caramelized, turn the heat to high, and splash the onions with a kiss of balsamic vinegar – just enough to coat them. There should be only so much balsamic as to hint at its flavor in the final dish, enough to lightly and playfully contrast with the bite of the arugula. So, be careful not to use too much, or else the balsamico will overpower the other elements instead of harmonizing with them. Stir the onions and balsamico over high heat for about a minute to let them really absorb the flavor and get glazed over.

Once the onions are glazed, return the heat to medium, and push the onions to the side of the pan, making an open spot in the middle. Add the garlic and sliced chilis to this spot, and let them toast there for about a minute or so, or until they just begin to soften, and become fragrant. Then, mix them in with the onions.

Reduce the heat to medium low, and add the washed and dried arugula.

Stir the glazed onion and garlic mixture in with the arugula. Cook for about 2 – 3 minutes, or until the arugula is just beginning to wilt. Reduce the heat to low.

Make as many indentations around the bed of wilted arugula as you have eggs. Break an egg gingerly into each depression, taking care to keep the yolk intact.

Lightly dust the eggs with the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

Cover the pan, and place it gently in the oven so as not to disturb the yolks. Bake for about 5-7 minutes, or until the whites are just barely set. You’ll have to judge by appearance, but it is pretty easy to do. The whites will have become solid in color, but will still seem pretty floppy.

If you are truly concerned about eating runny yolks, you should relax, and just buy eggs from a reputable farm, instead of a filthy mass market operation. It tastes better, it is better for you, and it is better for local economies as it promotes small scale farming operations. Not only will your meal be better, but you’ll enjoy it with a good conscience too.

Or, on the other hand, if you simply cannot muster the wherewithal to overcome your FDA induced neurosis, let the eggs bake a little longer until the yolks are fully set. But, to be honest, baked eggs with fully set yolks is a damn travesty. Just saying.

Remove the pan from the oven, and let it sit covered for barely a minute longer so the whites finish setting. Remove the lid, and let the steam out. Marvel at the mandala of culinary delight you have crafted!

Serve the eggs immediately, directly from the pan. Use a flat spatula to scoop up under each egg, lifting each together with a layer of the arugula bed on which it was baked.

As I very much enjoy playing at prince, I like to serve this with some chilled brut champagne. Those dry bubbles are the perfect finish for the savoury, sweet, and spicy tones of this dish. Plus, who doesn’t like champagne and eggs? Bon apetit!

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3 Responses to “Baked Eggs with Wilted Arugula & Balsamic Glazed Onions”

  1. fallenangel39 Says:

    This will be a dish that I will definately try..Your description was absolutely mouth watering..I liked the fact that you added the bit about local farm fresh eggs and how much better they taste.I love this blog!!

  2. pavaarsmunters Says:

    Thank you! Be sure to let me know how it comes out, and check back here, as I am trying to post regularly. 🙂

  3. djconnor Says:

    Bravo! I whole-heartedly endorse baked eggs. With my early inspirations from Jacques Pépin and some french farm house cookbooks I inherited, I have long contended Americans under-appreciate this versatile protein. Ah, the incredible, edible egg.

    I am loathe to admit I don’t utilize arugula as it should be. I need to revisit this green in a serious way.

    Great post!

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