Arugula Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Crispy Sage Leaves

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As a single person, one of the things that I find constantly aggravating about recipes is that they are all built for at least two but usually four people. Which means that if I am going to make a one-person version of a dish, then there is math involved and math just infuriates me because I am bad at it. So I really appreciate a dish that is flexible in portion size. You can make a little or a lot without a whole lot of adding or subtracting or, horror of horror, dividing of fractions.

The first time that I made the Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Chile from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook, I made the full portion size and it was definitely more food than I needed for breakfast that day, but the basic concept seemed easy enough to modify and scale up and down, which is what I have done here. I am laying out how much of each thing you need to cook a single egg with this preparation. You can multiple the items for multiple eggs, or just make yourself a nice light breakfast.

The basic idea is to use some lightly sauteed arugula as a bed for a slow baked egg and then top that with a dollop of yogurt and some spicy fried sage leaves. It all gets mixed together and you have the bitterness of the arugula with the richness of the egg and the tart yogurt to balance out the spiced up sage. I eat it with some whole wheat toast. I actually use my toast as the spoon.

I made a couple of small changes to Ottolenghi’s recipe. First, he suggests that you cook the arugula in olive oil and butter. I substitute in some coconut oil because I wanted to take the overall butter content down in this dish. There is butter to finish it off so I never miss it. Second, he adds garlic to his yogurt topper. This is a lovely addition that I always think I am going to do but then it is time to mince garlic and I always say screw it. I don’t miss it. Third, he uses Kirmizi Biber as the spice with his sage and butter. Its not something that I keep in my kitchen and my local spice shop does not carry it so I substitute in Aleppo Chile Pepper here (which is a fantastic addition to any spice rack and I highly recommend adding it if you do not have it).

I do the arugula sauteing and sage leaf frying in a small saucepan, but I bake the egg in a ramekin. If you don’t have a ramekin and are thinking that means that you don’t have any single serving size vessel that can go into the oven, check your coffee mugs. Many mugs are oven safe and can totally do the job here, especially since we aren’t cooking at a very high temperature. Check the bottoms of your mugs to see if you have one that is oven safe.

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Arugula Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Crispy Sage Leaves
(Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)

Coconut oil (or olive oil) to taste
2 cups of arugula
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon chile pepper (kirmizi biber, aleppo flakes, or crushed red pepper with a pinch of sweet paprika)
3 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: feta cheese, garlic, whole wheat toast

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

In a small pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until just warm and add the arugula with a little salt and pepper, stirring until the arugula wilts and releases its water. (This will take about five minutes and you can always press down on the arugula with your spoon to heat it release the water.) Pile the arugula into a small oven safe dish (ramekin is ideal) and make a hole in the center of the pile. Crack your egg into the center. Sprinkle a little salt on top. (You can also sprinkle a little feta and some of your chosen chile pepper on top if you feel that way inclined.) Place on the center shelf of the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the egg white is  set.

While the egg is cooking, wipe out the small pan and heat the butter. Once it is melted, add the chile pepper and cook for two to three minutes until the butter takes on a nice red color. Add the sage leaves and fry for one to two minutes until crispy. Set aside.

Optional: You can mince a clove of fresh garlic and add to the yogurt with a pinch of salt.

When the egg is finished cooking, add the yogurt and sage leaves. You can eat as it is or with toast.

FOLLOW UP QUESTION: How am I supposed to eat this?

I am astounded by the number of times that I follow a recipe to the letter, sit down to a beautiful finished dish and I am left wondering, um, how exactly should I be eating this? Do I eat it with a fork? With a spoon? Do I eat one thing at a time or lump it all together?  Why aren’t there eating instructions? I was faced with this very dilemma the first time that I made this dish. It looked lovely, but I spent several minutes poking it with my fork before I ventured in. What I have discovered after making this several times is that you take a fork and mash it all together so that you have something like this:

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Then, you take some toast and pile the arugula on the toast and eat it. You can eat it without the toast, but I find that the texture of the toast rounds the dish off nicely and helps turn a single ramekin into a nice full meal.

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