When You Keep Chickens, Eggs Are Dinner
Plus, how to turn tofu into "chorizo" tacos
I live on a farm. In my case, that means there are chickens roaming around, which also means an abundance of eggs. (In the photos above you can see me tending to the coop with my grandson on the left, and that’s Terry on the right.) There is a wire basket of eggs on my kitchen counter most of the time, so it’s fair to say that they pretty regularly find their way into whatever I happen to be cooking.
Today’s recipes lean into eggs. I wouldn’t necessarily call these dishes “breakfast for dinner” —my definitions of what’s appropriate for any given meal are pretty fluid — but they certainly tilt in that direction. And for whatever it’s worth, cooking what you might think of as traditional breakfast foods for dinner — or, for that matter, traditional dinner foods for breakfast — is a great way to shake up your repertoire and jolt yourself out of any cooking ruts you might find yourself in.
The first recipe here is the only one that doesn’t call for eggs, though a few scrambled in at the very end would be a welcome addition. It’s a vegan rendition of chorizo tacos made by crumbling tofu and crisping it with onion and garlic in a skillet. Less time in the pan gets you a more gentle chew; more time gets you a real crunch. The texture —and garnishes— are up to you. Big thank you to @cookingwithleeks who took the gorgeous photo of her version below.
As for the egg dishes, first up is classic pasta carbonara, which IMHO is basically bacon and eggs in its ideal form. Use guanciale if you can find it; pancetta is next best, but regular bacon works too. Then there’s a really great spin on shakshuka from David Tamarkin — former editor of Epicurious— that he shared with me a while back. Instead of the usual spicy tomato-pepper sauce as the base, he uses garlicky white beans; you poach the eggs right on top, the yolk oozes into the beans. It’s heaven.
Honestly, any of the four recipes today could have more or less qualified as our weekly “Cheap Dinner” recipe, but I wanted to highlight something a little fun. It’s khachapuri, a dish from the country of Georgia that’s basically an oblong bread boat filled with molten cheese and a runny egg. It’s not usually dinner unto itself, but I like to eat it that way, maybe with a little salad on the side. You tear off chunks of the bread and dip into the cheesy-eggy center. It’s pretty primal, but hey, I live on a farm.
Soft corn tortillas make a perfect vehicle for this tofu “chorizo,” which is so good you’ll find a lot of other uses for it too. Make it as soft or as crisp as you like, but use a nonstick pan for the best results; cast-iron is a good second choice. Since it’s easy to double the batch well ahead of time, you might think about making this dish the next time you have a brunch.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 20 to 45 minutes, depending on desired texture
Eight 6-inch corn tortillas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon pepper
1 1 ⁄ 2 pounds firm tofu (1 1 ⁄ 2 blocks)
1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 limes, 1 halved, 1 quartered
1 ⁄ 4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
1 ⁄ 4 cup chopped scallions, for garnish
1.Heat the oven to 400°F. stack the tortillas on a large square of foil and wrap them loosely.
2. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. add the onion and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Crumble the tofu into the pan with your hands. Cook, stirring, and scraping the bottom of the skillet occasionally, and adjusting the heat as necessary, until the tofu browns and crisps as much or as little as you like it, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
4. When the tofu is almost ready, put the tortillas in the oven.
5. Add the bell pepper to the pan if you’re using it. sprinkle the mixture with the chili powder; stir, and cook, continuing to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan until the mixture is fragrant, less than a minute. squeeze the juice of the halved lime over all, garnish with cilantro and scallions, and serve with the tortillas and lime quarters.
Makes: 3 to 6 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
4 ounces pancetta, guanciale, or bacon, chopped
1 pound linguine or other long pasta
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more to taste
David Tamarkin’s White Shakshuka
A classic shakshuka involves a spiced tomato–red pepper sauce; here that sauce is replaced by garlicky white beans.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 30 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 ¾ cups bean broth or water
Juice of ½ lemon
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, divided
4 large eggs
Warm pita bread, for serving
Hot sauce (such as Tabasco), for serving
Cheap Dinner Of The Week: Khachapuri
This traditional dish from the country of Georgia, known as acharuli khachapuri, is essentially a canoe made out of pizza dough and filled with bubbling cheese and a runny egg. What’s not to like? The most fun way to eat it is to put the boat on a platter while it’s still hot and tear into it with your fingers, dipping the hunks of bread into the molten center. If that sounds too hot or messy (it can be both), you can always cut it crosswise into pieces and serve on individual plates.
Makes: 2 dinner servings, or 4 servings as a snack
Time: About 2 hours, largely unattended
1 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 1/2 cups shredded Muenster cheese
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small cubes (optional but traditional)
Last note: If you haven’t yet come across Hanna Raskin’s Food Section — the newish newsletter in which she’s chronicling food of the South — it’s really great, and shaping up to become essential reading, such as today’s post below.