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!

My Gift to You: Tropical Storm Sandy Seared Char & Hearty Lentils

Hello Readers,

It has been over a week since my last post and all is well. Thankfully, we managed fine during the storm, it has simply taken a few days to get fully operational. I bet you are wondering what to prepare when you’re waiting for a tropical storm to hit a non-tropical climate? One dish came to mind last week – a mix of hearty, healthy and homey – Seared Salmon with Lentils and Balsamic Reduction.

Last Monday (pre-Sandy) we ventured to the local market  to stock up. With limited supplies available, I picked up whatever looked fresh at the fish counter, assuming it would be a few days before we could even consider a luxury like freshly caught fish. The Arctic Char fillets looked juicy and firm, and with no fresh salmon in sight, that would be it. I decided to use the Char in place of salmon fillets for my tried and true hearty fall/winter recipe. This is a multi-step meal, so I’ll prepare the lentils in advance,  and let them rest on the stove top or in the fridge. The fish and balsamic vinegar sauce can be prepared in about 15 minutes when you are ready for dinner. Highly recommend this nutrient-dense, protein-rich meal. Extra lentils make for a great lunch next day. Hubs is a fan, too. Things were a bit hectic, so sorry, no photos for this post.

The preparation is loosely based on Sally Schneider’s recipe from A New Way to Cook, replacing the lentil preparation with Jamie Oliver’s from The Naked Chef cookbook. I have modified the original lentil recipe to be vegetarian. Trust me, best lentil recipe ever.

Seared Char with Lentils and Balsamic Reduction

For the lentils, which can be prepared in advance:

  • 1 cup Puy lentils, or green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 heaped tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 red onion or 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salmon and balsamic reduction:

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 6-ounce arctic char fillets, skin on (or salmon!)
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Dash kosher salt
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)


For the lentils: Give the lentils a quick wash. Using a thick bottomed, oven safe pan with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the rosemary, onion, and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then add carrot. Cook for a further 2 minutes then add the lentils and fry for about 1 minute. Add the stock, put the lid on and bring to the boil, then transfer to oven and simmer in the oven for 1 hour at 300F, or until tender stirring occasionally.  By this time a lot of the stock will have been absorbed.

Add 2 tablespoons of your best extra virgin olive oil 1/2 blespoon of red wine vinegar and black pepper and salt to taste. Set aside until ready to serve salmon.

For the balsamic sauce: In a small, non-reactive saucepan, bring the vinegar to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat slightly and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup and thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside

For the salmon: Place the salmon skin side up on a work surface and make several shallow slashes in the skin using a sharp paring knife (this will help prevent salmon from curling when it hits the hot pan). Sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper and salt.

Heat a large, nonstick pan (cast iron pan works great, too) over moderate heat until very hot. Place salmon in pan, skin side down and to not move for 4-5 minutes (skin should be crisp and brown). Turn fillets over, and cook for another 2-3 minutes depending on how well cooked you like your salmon. Remove fillets from pan and let rest for 1-2 minutes while you prep the rest of the dish.

Return the balsamic sauce to the moderate heat and bring to a simmer. Add the butter and stir until blended.

If using parsley, stir into lentils. Mound lentils onto plate. Place 1 salmon filet on plate, then drizzle balsamic sauce around the lentils. Repeat and enjoy.

Yield: 2 servings, with extra lentils for the next day.