A long time ago, the Husband and I regularly consumed a dish with the exotic name of Egg Surprise. It consisted of a tin of chopped tomatoes, and anything else that was a likely candidate for an evening meal, bubbled up in a saucepan. The surprise was whether there was an egg cooked in it or not. I have blogged about this before.
Our tastes have of course developed over the years, and money is not quite so tight, but sometimes, the simple and basic things are the best. Roll on a decade or so, and Egg Surprise still appears reasonably regularly on our table, although it might come bearing an exotic moniker such as ‘chachouka’ or some such. Delicious? Yes. But the bottom line is that in our book, meals like this will forever be known as Egg Surprise.
And what do you know? Even the Goddess herself, Nigella, cooks Egg Surprise – I saw it with my own eyes on Nigellissima last night – billed as a post-night out feast to be gobbled greedily from the pan as only la Lawson can, in a LBD and killer heels, I defy you to tell me that was not, essentially, Egg Surprise.
In a recent post about Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals, I mused on the fact that my culinary heroes have changed as I have grown older. In the same way, what we have in the store cupboard as a base for Egg Surprise has changed - we have our own chickens, so the eggs are more of a given than a surprise. The ‘surprise’ now tends to come in the form of which vegetable glut from the garden has been chucked in to the pot… And yesterday, quite by chance, and, I can assure you, before Nigella graced our screens last night wafting nutella cheesecakes and other deliciousness in front of us, including her own version of Egg Surprise, guess what I had served up for supper, faced with the spinach in the veg patch?
Grown Up Egg Surprise
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 dried red chilli, chopped (or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
100g roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and chopped
150g spinach leaves
½ tsp smoked paprika
400g tin chick peas, drained
2 large eggs
Crusty bread to serve
Pre-heat the oven to 1800C.
Heat ½ tblspn olive oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic gently till softened. Add the chilli, the tomatoes and swill out the can of tomatoes into the pan with 100ml water. Stir in the chopped peppers and bring to the boil Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, when it will have started to thicken up. At the same time, wash the spinach leaves, shred them and put them in a pan (or steam) till wilted. Drain and squash out the water.
When the tomato mixture is thickened up, stir in the wilted spinach, smoked paprika and chick peas, and add everything into an oven proof dish. Make 2 hollows in the mixture, crack in the eggs and transfer the dish to the oven. Bake till the whites are set – but if possible, the yolks are still runny. It will probably take around 10 minutes if the tomato mixture was hot when you cracked the eggs into it.
Serve with crusty bread (LBD and killer heels optional)