:: It seems to me that the humble egg has become a forgotten source of protein.
Of course there’s the time-honoured (some would say religious) tradition of the Sunday fry-up but eggs are equally as brilliant at the other end of the day for dinner.
The perks – they cook quickly, there’s no prep and they’re extremely versatile. All of which are become a key factor when deciding what to cook after a day in the office.
I’ve found a great way to solve the ‘I want dinner in the next 20 minutes or I’m like to eat a bag of chips and a whole wheel of brie but I’m far too tired to cook’ dilemma, which starts with cooking up a big batch of a tomato-based sauce on the weekend filled with lots of good stuff, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, roasted capsicums or aubergines. Get creative and take the flavours to any country you like (add olives or sundried tomatoes for something Italian, or season with sumac and cumin to take it more in a Middle-Eastern direction). At the end of the day, the goal is the packing in as much flavour and vegetables as possible.
Portion up the sauce into single servings and freeze. That way, if you’re in need of an super fast (but most importantly, healthy) mid-week dinner, you can just defrost a portion of sauce, crack in a couple of eggs and put under the grill or in the oven until the eggs are cooked. Crumble over some feta or parmesan and you’ve got a hearty meal with a good dose of protein and vitamin-rich veg.
Huevos rancheros is a Mexican vegetarian dish more commonly associated with breakfast but it works just as well for dinner.
Although black beans seem to be more commonly used in the sauce base, I’ve used refried beans (frijoles refritos) in my version. This is another example of a sauce you could make in advance and freeze in portions ahead of the working week. You just need a few fresh ingredients on hand (avocados, coriander and tortillas), plus of course the all-important namesake –eggs.
2 avocados, halved and sliced
8 small corn tortillas
1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
fresh limes, halved to serve
cracked black pepper
3 x 400g tins (approximately 3 cups) kidney beans, drained
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 3 tbsp finely chopped jalapeños
¼ cup olive oil
In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan warm a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat.
Add the onions and kidney beans and gently cook for five minutes, stirring regularly to ensuring nothing sticks to the pan. You don’t want to colour the onions and beans (rather sweat them out and flavour them with the olive oil).
Add the garlic, tomatoes and jalapeños to the saucepan. Season well, cover with fresh cold water and bring to the boil.
Turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible and simmer, uncovered, for two to three hours until the beans are soft. As the water evaporates, add more boiling water to keep the ingredients barely covered.
Once the beans are soft, drain off any excess water and mash the beans with a potato masher until the mixture is relatively smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust to your liking.
When you’re ready to start preparing the heuvos rancheros, wrap the tortillas in foil and place in low oven to warm them through.
You can either poach or fry your eggs – it’s entirely up to you. I much prefer poached eggs, done for two and half minutes in boiling salted water (which in my humble opinion makes for a perfect, partially runny yolk).
To serve, place two warmed tortillas on each plate, top with the beans, two eggs and some avocado slices. Sprinkle with fresh coriander, drizzle with olive oil and crack over a few twists of black pepper. Serve with limes for squeezing over the top and some chilli sauce (like Tabasco) for those who like some heat.
Consume with gusto!