eggs

Argentine Tortilla (Tortilla de Papas)

individual tortilla de papas

Potatoes + onions + eggs + spices = divine combination. Right?

My family traveled to Brazil and Argentina this summer to visit family and celebrate my brother in law’s wedding. Visually and culturally, the trip was magnificent! It was a culinary eye opener for my kids, and somewhat difficult at times for one of my kids and for me to handle the amount of meat consumed. We don’t eat so much red meat at home, but in Brazil and Argentina, it’s ubiquitous.

One bright light: in Buenos Aires, my aunt wowed us with her Tortilla de Papas, an Argentine riff on the classic Spanish dish, Tortilla Española.
In the classic preparation, chunks of potato are fried in olive oil with onions and spices until they have beautifully browned edges, and then eggs are added. Once flipped, this omelet seals the deal as a simple, yet filling and comforting rustic dish. My aunt can make this with her eyes closed, and it’s absolutely delicious time and time again. But wow, it’s a messy affair! Oil splatters everywhere, and the need to pour out some of the excess oil is potentially a hazard. In general, not the kind of dish that I would personally want to make over and over.

Once home, I tried my hand at her recipe many times, and tinkered with it until I reached a dish that I would be happy making on repeat. Instead of frying in a cast iron pan, I’ve roasted and seasoned the potatoes and onions, then baked the whole thing with eggs. The roasted flavor carries over beautifully here, and you won’t need to wipe up all of the oil spatter from frying. This dish can be made in multiple sizes, with the only adjustment made in the cooking time.

tortilla de papas

It’s homey and comforting, and easy enough to make on a busy weeknight. I love this dish because it’s also hearty enough to have as a main dish. If you make this dish, post it and tag @lalalunchbox and #lalalunchbox on Instagram.

Tortilla de Papas

roasted onions and potatoes

1 pound of thin skinned potatoes (such as yukon gold), cut into 1 inch chunks
1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin rounds
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Lay out the potatoes and onions on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.
3. Roast for approximately 35-40 minutes or until the potatoes and onions are nicely browned on the edges.
4. In a separate bowl, scramble the eggs and add salt/pepper to taste. I added just under one teaspoon.
5. Combine the roasted vegetables with the eggs and pour into an oven safe dish. You can line the top with roasted onion rings to make it look pretty.
6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the eggs are just set.

tortilla de papas

Cured Egg Yolks

cured egg yolk.jpg

The humble egg is a family favorite. It's a quick, healthy solution for breakfast. A reliable standby for lunch. A welcome change for dinner. When I came across something recently about cured egg yolks, my curiosity was peaked and I had to dive right in. I've tinkered with the original recipe from Bon Appetit slightly, and am looking forward to continuing to experiment with it. 

Cured yolks add a salty, creamy depth to dishes. I grate them over pasta, over salads, on simple steamed vegetables and on top of several types of toast. They add an umami dimension that is eminently satisfying. Here's my favorite part: you can use them in place of a hard, salty cheese to make a dish dairy free. I used four yolks each time I made this recipe, and because a little goes a long way, they last a long time. (Make sure to reduce the amount of added salt to a dish if you plan on adding cured egg yolks). You can see the step by step process that I used below, or follow along on my highlighted Instagram Story

Without further ado, here's my adapted recipe: 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 2/3 cups kosher salt 

  • 11/4 cups sugar

  • 4 large egg yolks

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest OR 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill (optional, or add your own fresh herb)

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray

PROCESS

Whisk salt and sugar (and optional lemon zest or herb of choice) in a bowl to combine. Evenly spread out half of salt mixture in an 8x8" glass baking dish. Using the back of a tablespoon, create 4 depressions in salt mixture, spacing evenly. Carefully place an egg yolk in each depression. You can freeze the whites in an ice cube tray if you don't plan to use them immediately. Gently sprinkle remaining salt mixture over yolks and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 days. (continued below)

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Preheat oven to 150°F. My oven only goes as low as 170°F, so that's what I used. Brush salt mixture off each yolk, then carefully rinse under cold water to remove any remaining salt (yolks will be semi-firm, and bright, as shown below). Gently pat dry with paper towels. They'll look a lot like glacéd apricots. 

Generously coat a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray; place yolks on rack. Dry out in oven until opaque and texture is like a firm Gruyère cheese, about 80-90 minutes. You can experiment with the timing of this based on how firm or soft you'd like your yolks. When the cooking is done, let them cool. They will last up to a month in a refrigerated airtight container. 

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Here are some of the ways that I used them: 

cured yolks in dishes.jpg

Top left: here we've got sourdough toast with labne, avocado, thin slices of cured egg yolks, microgreens and fresh ground pepper. 

Top right: simple salad with micro greens, baby arugula, purple radish and grated cured egg yolks. 

Bottom left: fresh pasta with oven roasted oyster mushrooms and baby kale with grated cured egg yolk and fresh pepper. 

sourdough toast with avocado, watermelon radish and grated cured egg yolk

sourdough toast with avocado, watermelon radish and grated cured egg yolk

DIY Toast with cured egg shavings, guacamole, radishes and lime.

DIY Toast with cured egg shavings, guacamole, radishes and lime.

Polenta with roasted cremini mushrooms, scallions and cured egg yolk.

Polenta with roasted cremini mushrooms, scallions and cured egg yolk.

Pasta with Eggs

Between work and the early evening shuffling to tae kwon do, gymnastics or whatever else, getting a healthy dinner on the table quickly feels overwhelming at times. You too? One of my go-to weeknight dinners when I'm short on time has just four ingredients, takes less than 30 minutes to pull together and is really affordable. Here's my favorite part: all five of my family members love it! 

Spinach noodles with egg

Spinach noodles with egg

eggs

Pasta with Eggs came about one night when I started making carbonara and realized that I didn't have bacon. The process to make it is nearly identical, but this version has neither bacon nor cheese. Since that evening, this has become a staple in my house and my kids love to take the leftovers for lunch. Eggs are versatile, delicious, and nutritionally dense. One large egg has a satisfying 6 grams of protein and is high in vitamin B2 so even when I'm serving what seems like plain pasta for dinner, it is anything but plain. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that eggs are dear to my heart. (also, collecting them with my daughter on a recent farmstay was seriously cool!)

But back to the pasta... the four ingredients you'll need are pasta, eggs, butter and salt. I'm sharing my recipe with you now and hope that it serves you as well as it has served me for years. You can make it completely dairy free by substituting oil for butter. 

Here's what you'll need: 
1 pound of pasta (fresh or dry will work) 
3 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of coarse salt

Here's how to do it:
1. Cook the pasta as directed, reserve 1/8 cup of the cooking water and set it aside. Drain the rest of the pasta and set it aside as well. Here I'm using fresh spinach noodles, but really, anything will do. I've also made this with gluten free, bean pasta and it's delicious!

cooked and drained pasta.jpg

2. Add the butter to the pot that you used to cook the pasta and turn the heat on medium low. 

melt butter

3. Add the pasta back to the pot and stir to combine the melted butter. Add the reserved cooking water and then slowly add the eggs. 

adding eggs to pasta

4. When you've added the whole eggs and the egg yolk, stir with a wooden spoon to break the yolks, add the salt and combine into the pasta. 

raw eggs in the pasta

5. With the heat still on medium low, keep stirring until the eggs just cook. It will form a rich, creamy sauce. Taste it to determine whether you'd like to add more salt (or add pepper). You might have some small egg clumps. That's okay. They're still delicious! Check to make sure the temperature on your stove isn't too high. 

Stirring Pasta with Eggs

6. Have patience. It takes about 7-10 minutes of low heat for the sauce to set. These are best eaten immediately, but my kids also love them cold for lunch the next day. 

Enjoy! 

Pasta with Egg

Easy Dinner Recipe: Strata

Eggs

If there's one thing all 5 of us always agree on, it's eggs. Strata is basically a frittata with bread and I love it because I can make it ahead of time and just reheat for dinner and I can also pop it into the lunchboxes! Score! 

I've made strata with spinach and with broccoli. I've made it with cheddar cheese and goat cheese. I've made it with olives and chick peas. But the version I keep coming back to has just tomatoes, basil and cheese. It's like having an egg and tomato sandwich with cheese, only better. Way better. Here's another thing I love about strata: it's a great way to use up bread that's getting stale. (here's another use for that)

Strata

Here's what you'll need: 
10 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of crusty bread, cut into one inch cubes
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Optional: 1/2 cup shredded cheese or goat cheese

Strata slice

Here's what to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and salt
3. Add the bread and combine so that the bread is totally soaked in. You can pop this in the refrigerator for 2+ hours or proceed from here. 
4. Add the tomatoes, basil (and cheese, if using) to the bowl. Combine thoroughly. 
5. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium heat. Swirl the oil to coat the bottom and the sides. 
6. Pour the mixture into the skillet, and make sure everything is evenly spread. 
7. Bake until the eggs are completely set and the edges are golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. 
8. Let the Strata cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes.
9. Use a spatula to flip it out of the pan onto a board and serve. 

My Dinner Struggle

Let me just put this out there: My husband and I don't usually eat dinner with our kids. I grew up eating family dinner and the thought of sitting and chatting together around a table of deliciousness sounds fantastic, but I can't quite figure out when that's going to happen around here. Or how. But the problem is bigger than that. 

Timing
My kids are still young (9, 5 and 3) and they eat early, around 5:30 pm; my youngest is asleep before my husband gets home from work. The kids eat together and then later in the evening, my husband and I eat together. Having the opportunity to break bread as a twosome at the end of the day is lovely in many ways. That said, I'm naturally hungry much earlier than we eat so I don't particularly love eating dinner at 8:30 or later. I usually end up sitting down with the kids for a little nibble and then eat another small plate later. Far from ideal. 

kids at the table

Planning
Some nights I'm a rockstar and I make one meal for all of us, and serve part of it to the early birds and save the rest for the night owls. But each and every time, I stand in my kitchen wondering: do I leave this food out on the counter or the stove top for hours? Or do I refrigerate it? I never know the answer.
Despite the fact that I cook dinner for 5 people every day and have been doing this for years, I somehow haven't mastered the art of quantity. Sometimes I cook a meal that I think should be enough for all of us and one (or more) of the kids is hungrier than I'd anticipated so there isn't quite enough for the night owl dinner. On the flip side, occasionally I'll make a meal and my kids aren't as hungry as usual so there are way more leftovers than planned. Other times I'm in the mood for something that I know the kids won't enjoy so I end up cooking twice. That's when  I stand in my kitchen wondering how crazy I must be to make two separate dinners in one day (followed by packing three school lunches). 

I'm tired. 

Supplies
You'll find me in the grocery store about twice weekly -- it takes a lot of food to feed five people and my fridge isn't as big as I'd like. But let's be honest, I also enjoy browsing the aisles and discovering new products. Shopping more than once per week gives my kids more options to choose from to plan their lunches and I like to cook so it felt like a win until I realized that I'm feeling stretched too thin. 

double yolk

The Solution
Something had to give. I decided that any time there was an issue with dinner, eggs were the answer. If I make a dish that I'm pretty sure the kids won't like, I offer it anyway and when it's inevitably rejected, they get eggs (with veggies and fruit). If dinner is gobbled up more than expected, my husband and I have eggs (with veggies). Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin B and also happen to be delicious! And the money spent on a dozen eggs goes a lot farther than many other proteins. So we're in an egg routine now. I've been buying jumbo eggs for a while now, mostly because of their size but also because finding a double yolk gives me an absolute thrill every single time. 

The Questions

  • I'd love to find dishes and straightforward recipes that can accommodate all of us. Do you make one meal for everyone in your family?
  • I don't know when I'll figure out a way for us to eat dinner together - for now, our family meal is breakfast. Do you eat together? If so, how old were your kids when you started that? 
  • It's pretty lucky that we all dig eggs. For me, it was important to have a fall back option so that I don't feel guilty or stressed out or resentful about dinner. What are your standbys? Do you have a source for recipes that you absolutely love? 

The Recipe
Eggs are so versatile. Here's one of my favorite recipes for Veggie Pie that every member of my family enjoys: 

greens

Ingredients
8 eggs (I use jumbos but large will work just fine)
1 pound of spinach, chopped
1 pound of asparagus, chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pie crust*
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

*the pie crust is optional. I've made this dozens of times with no crust at all. 

Method (photos below)
Preheat the oven to 375. Prepare your pie crust as needed. I often use a ready-made dough which needs to be par-baked. Mix the greens, salt and pepper in a big bowl to evenly distribute all ingredients. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the greens. Sauté for just 2 minutes, when the greens begin to shrink. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Place greens back in your big bowl and add the eggs. Combine all ingredients and pour into your pie crust. Bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes (time will vary depending on the depth of your container, so keep your eye on the oven). 

Chopped greens, all playing nicely together

Chopped greens, all playing nicely together

lightly sauteed greens

lightly sauteed greens

eggs + greens + crust = ready for the oven!

eggs + greens + crust = ready for the oven!

Veggie Pi(e)! 

Veggie Pi(e)!