Ottolenghi-inspired Baked Persian Eggs

I have a few cookbooks that I come back to over and over again, and I have many many cookbooks standing in a huge pile that I use less often, but Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are always a great read and my first port of call when I fancy something fresh and new. I think the colours and the magnificent array of ingredients are definitely a reason that the books never feel boring and he has a way of totally transforming things you cook all the time. Last summer, Ottolenghi was on the Great British Food Revival’s episode about walnuts and he went to visit a pickled walnuts factory. This was the moment I knew that he and I were soulmates because there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for a pickled walnut. I am hoping to cook his stuffed aubergines with pickled walnuts this weekend so I shall report back.

This is a recipe that I’ve seen skulking about the net for a while and saw a photo of from the Ottolenghi restaurant in London once. When I say it’s a recipe I’ve seen, it’s not, it’s one I invented but based on many things I’ve read. The fundamentals are ragu or ratatouille, poach eggs in mix, serve with crusty bread and so this is what I set out to do. I actually had ratatouille in the freezer from a glut I made earlier in the month so this made the world’s quickest supper but even if it were made from scratch, it’s only a tomato sauce. The other delight is that it will probably never be the same recipe more than once as it’s the sort of thing that’s made up from bits and pieces that you have. I put quite a bit of chilli and cumin in this one as I wanted it to taste Persian, Lebanese, Moroccan, somewhere around there. The spinach was a last minute addition as I wanted the aesthetics of green but it was really nice and fresh and a natural friend to eggs. If you didn’t want to serve it with crusty bread, you could scatter fresh breadcrumbs on top after you’d broken the eggs in. It’s very flexible, like me!

I made this last week when we were all feeling a bit cold and tired and it’s was incredibly comforting and darned tasty.

Without any further ado…

baked eggs

Ottolenghi-inspired Baked Persian Eggs

serves about 3

  • for the ratatouille:
  • tinned tomatoes, 2 tins
  • red onions, aubergines, peppers, courgettes
  • ground cumin, ground chillis
  • chopped chorizo, about 200g
  • basil, oregano, rosemary
  • sherry vinegar
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • for the baked eggs:
  • 6 large free range eggs
  • a bag of spinach
  • crumbled goat’s cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. To make the ratatouille, chop the onions and vegetables chunkily, add the chorizo and saute in a frying pan in olive oil. When these are soft and golden, add the tinned tomatoes and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes until the tomatoey liquid has reduced in quantity.
  2. To the tomato mix, add the vinegar, salt and pepper, fresh herbs, dried spices and brown sugar. Cook this until a consistency you like. I wanted it to be fairly thick which I think holds the eggs better in the mixture.
  3. When the tomato/ratatouille mixture is cooked, transfer to a pan that can also work in an oven. Bring the mix to temperature and scatter over the spinach. Stir this through until it wilts.
  4. In the mixture, create small wells in which to crack the eggs. Crack in each egg to a well one by one, cover and transfer to a hot oven for 6 minutes (longer if you want your egg well done).
  5. Remove the pan from the oven, scatter with salt and pepper and crumbled goat’s cheese.
  6. Eat with crusty bread and gusto.
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