Poached Eggs in Tunisian Red Pepper Sauce Sounds Better Than Green Juice

Poached Eggs with Tunisian Red Pepper Sauce & Chickpeas with Leeks, Spinach and Smoked Paprika. Courtesy of Bon Appetit

And it looks and tastes a heck of a lot better, too. This is post #2 in my series on the “So-called Cleanse” for food lovers. I found this dinner recipe mid-way through the 2 week menu from Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse and fell in love.  High-protein, vegetarian, healthy: Poached Eggs with Tunisian Red Pepper Sauce & Chickpeas with Leeks, Spinach and Smoked Paprika. I have already prepared this meal 3 times, sometimes with the accompanying chickpeas, sometimes without, and it is a hit. The red pepper sauce is delicious, with many flavors layered upon one another, and the real kicker is the harissa paste. Also, I have tons of bell peppers in the freezer from the CSA so finding this recipe was a bonus for me. 

Harissa Paste in tube

I had never purchased or used harissa until now, and I am intrigued.  was very glad that this recipe pushed me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to this new ingredient – spicy, smoky, colorful. All good.  Harissa comes in a tube or glass jar. And, WARNING! The level of spiciness can vary dramatically. I speak from experience. Have you used harissa?

The accompaniment, Chickpeas with Leeks, Spinach and Smoked Paprika, is also a great stand-alone dish. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare, is high-protein, vitamin-packed and flavorful. I enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day and have prepared it for a quick meal without the Poached Eggs dish. I did make a few modifications to these recipes. Hubs is not a fan of poached eggs, so we substituted scrambled eggs and it worked. He seemed to enjoy his meal as much as I did, even without the richness of the poached egg’s yolk mixing with the spicy peppers. Hubs also seemed to enjoy the meal without the accompanying Chickpeas, as that remains a verboten food. Hubs was a good sport about the Cleanse overall, but apparently there are limits. See my modified recipe below.

Eggs with Tunisian Red Pepper Sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, cut lengthwise into 1/2”-wide strips
  • 1  teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
  • 1  tomato, cored, grated using the large holes on a box grater
  • 1/2 tablespoon (or more) harissa paste (taste for level of desired heat)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (if poaching eggs)
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon


  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add peppers and 1 tsp. kosher salt and cook, stirring often, until peppers are wilted, 5—8 minutes. Add tomato, 1/2 Tbsp. harissa, and 1 cup water; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often and adding more water if too dry, until peppers are soft, 15—20 minutes. Season with kosher salt and more harissa, if desired. Keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, fill a large skillet with water if poaching eggs. Add vinegar and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; bring to a simmer. Crack each egg into a teacup, then slide each one into the water; reduce heat to low. Poach eggs until whites are set and yolks are gently set, 3—4 minutes. Alternately, prepare scrambled eggs as you normally would in place of the poached eggs (no vinegar needed).
  • Divide pepper sauce among four warm bowls and top each with 2  poached eggs, or divide scrambled eggs. Season eggs with flaky sea salt.

Yield: 2 servings

Happy eating!

A Tale of Two Shrooms: Leek and Shiitake Mushroom Risotto & the Aftermath

Summary statement for this post: Make more than you need, it’s better on Day 2. I love making risotto, though it is strictly a weekend activity because it does take more than 30 minutes to prepare. But on a cool fall or winter night, it cannot be beat. I was excited to see leeks again in my last CSA pick-up, as well as 2 large shiitake mushrooms. I decided to prepare a Leek & Shiitake Mushroom Risotto dish – a twish on the traditional Mushroom Risotto. I would use leeks instead of a sauteed onion, and shiitake mushrooms in place of poricini (traditional ingredient in Italy). Sadly, mushrooms are on Hubs’s verboten food list, but I insisted on using just 1 in this recipe as mushrooms add tremendous depth and flavor AND authenticity.

Best Leftovers: Risotto Al Salto

I also used my homemade Vegetable Stock, and a rind of parmiggiano. The  Risotto was yummy on Saturday night, very earthy and even had a brownish hue. Perhaps a little too shroom-y for Hubs’s taste, which is why we had a nice helping leftover. That’s the aftermath. I usually don’t have risotto leftovers, but was actually happy to have them on Sunday because I could make Risotto Al Salto. This is a classic Northern Italian dish using leftover rice, where you basically make a crispy pancake from your risotto. This photo does not do the dish justice. Hubs declared it much improved on Day 2. Um, what’s not to like?

Day 1: Mushroom & Leek Risotto 

1 cup arborio or cannaroli rice
3 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
3 cups vegetable stock, warmed
1 – 2 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup shredded parmiggiano
1 parmiggiano rind (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Saturday Night Risotto

In a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter and saute the leeks. Saute for ~10 minutes until softened, but not yet browned. Add the mushrooms. Saute for an additional 3-4 minutes until mushrooms are softened. Add rice. Stir and let toast for 1 – 2 minutes. Add 1 ladle (about ~1/2 cup) of broth at this time. Add a dash of kosher salt. Stir and let the risotto rest. It should bubble slowly. You want to let the rice absorb the stock, and there is no need to stir it constantly. Check in 2-4 minutes if the liquid has absorbed, and if so, add another ladle of stock. Repeat until risotto has reached desired consistency. It usually takes about 20 minutes or so of “bathing,” and you may have to adjust the stove setting. You can taste for doneness by biting into one grain of rice. It should still have some bite, but be cooked all the way through.

When risotto is cooked, stir in cheese gently. You can add an additional tablespoon of butter (optional), and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with a handful of shredded parmiggiano and enjoy.

Day 2: Mushroom & Leek Risotto Al Salto, or Risotto Pancake

Leftover risotto
1 tablespoon olive oil
Handful of shredded parmiggiano

Drizzle oil in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. Spoon risotto into pan and spread out, like a pancake. Allow risotto to crisp, cooking for about 5 minutes. Flip using a spatula and crisp on other side. Slide onto plate and sprinkle with parmiggiano. Cut into quarters and serve. Enjoy!

And, for more details on making Risotto Al Salto, you can check out Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe.

My Lunch: Jealous much?

Nothing too fancy, just something I whipped up in a few minutes. There are the Roasted Carrots (thank you again, Dan), sauteed Red Russian Kale and Leeks Vinaigrette. I had prepared the carrots and leeks on Sunday, and then quickly sauteed the kale before lunch. So colorful, seasonal, flavorful, local and nutritious! For the kale, I sliced up a few cloves of garlic, sauteed them in olive oil, tossed in a dried chili pepper and then piled on the kale. It always looks like you’re preparing a massive amount of hearty greens, but then the big, bunchy leaves wilt and collapse and shrink into 2 good portions. I didn’t bother to remove the stems since they didn’t seem that tough, which also made for a super speedy preparation. Like I’ve said before, just eating kale makes me feel virtuous.

For the leeks, I trimmed off the tough green leaves, then split each one down the middle and rinsed away the dirt. I had the limited quantity challenge occasionally associated with a CSA Pick-up: only 2 mismatched leeks, both of different dimensions , one very large, and one slim. I brought a small saucepan of water to a boil, salted it and cooked them for about 15 minutes.  I removed the slim one, but let the larger one cook for another 15 minutes or so, until tender.  I then placed the leeks in a colander to drain for a few minutes.In the meantime, I prepared the vinaigrette for this classic French preparation. In this picture, I also sprinkled some shredded Parmiggiano on top, just because I had it leftover in the fridge. If I had a larger batch of leeks, I would have prepared in the oven, maybe a gratin, but having only 2, it was more like a taste of leeks for 1, than anything else.

Doesn’t this plate look so great? I love eating a sampling of different dishes – something about it feels so luxurious. I wouldn’t be happier if I had lunch in one of my favorite restaurants. Thank you, Wolfe Spring Farm.

Here is my Mustard Vinaigrette recipe, which is also great for green salads.

1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
6-8 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-sized bowl, place shallots in red wine vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften. Whisk in mustard, then slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use on cooked vegetables and salads. Enjoy.

CSA Pick-up 10/20/12

The funny thing about autumn in the Northeast is that it can be freezing (literally) one night and soar back to the 60s another. After last weekend’s frosty temps, we were surprised to feel the need to peel off layers on Saturday morning as we stopped by the farm for our pick-up. Penultimate pick-up of the season. My bag felt a little lighter than usual, but there were still some great new veggies on hand: Red Russian kale, butternut squash and escarole.

Penultimate pick-up – 10/20/12

I was also delighted to see another pair of leeks, a box of brussel sprouts and bunch of multi-colored carrots. With our house guests on the way, I knew we’d make short order out of this pick-up in no time at all. Here’s what I had on tap:

– My “almost-famous” Minestrone-style veggie soup
Leeks Vinaigrette (very French, I know)
– Roasted carrots, copycat pt 2 (see guest blogger Dan Doern’s post for inspiration)
Crispy Caramelized Brussel Sprouts
– Sauteed kale

And, any other year I’d be psyched to see the ornamental gourds, but they didn’t do much for me this year. We found a “volunteer” squash vine in our garden this year and it produced a prodigious crop of yellow and green bumpy creatures.

Hard Frost: CSA Pick-up 10/13/12

Mid-October and the end of CSA season in Western Mass is growing nigh.

Warning: Temps dipped into the 20s last night

If you like your kale crispy, it’s your lucky day:

Frosty Kale

Despite the overnight freezing temps, we still had a wide assortment of veggies at today’s pick-up, including some new fall veggies like Brussel Sprouts (yay!), multi-colored carrots, acorn squash and leeks (double yay!):

New: Brussel Sprouts

New: Carrots & Leeks (hello again, potatoes)

I was already brainstorming on what to do with this bounty and knew I’d have to act quick. Everything looked great, but once the ice melted, I feared many things would go to mush, and worse, rot. Here’s what I’ll make once I get these puppies home:

  • Leek, Potato and Caramelized Cabbage Soup
  • Kale & Edamame Quinoa salad (inspired by Guido’s prepared foods counter)
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  • Acorn Squash with Chili-lime Vinaigrette
  • TBD

Here’s the full run-down of today’s pick-up: