Runny Eggs on Everything

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
fried egg on vegetables and salads

Put runny eggs on it. What are you doing with the local fresh eggs you’re buying now? We’re serving them over all kinds of vegetables. Here’s a farm fresh egg oozing over green beans flavored with fried bits of pancetta and Parmesan curls. Love those crispy edges.


A real highlight of fetching the summer CSA box or roaming a good farmer’s market is grabbing a couple dozen farm fresh eggs.  Unfortunately, on more than one occasion, our Saturday spirits were dashed when the eggs were all sold out. So if you’re planning on eggs, go early. Eggs always go first.

Why shell out four or five bucks a dozen instead of the usual $1.50, you ask?  Surely there are plenty of philosophical and economic rationales to support the splurge, but all we’ll say is that four dollar eggs are gorgeous and delicious. Even in the supermarket, eggs are no longer a cheap commodity product. They’re categorized and branded to death like so many shelf space hogging product lines. Good luck figuring all that out.

In the restaurants, chefs have been early adopters of the emerging designer egg trend, showcasing the little jewels in all kinds of dishes. The two particularly standout egg preparations on menus and in the news are the more rustic fried egg instead of poached and the upscale deviled egg. Excellent developments both. Here’s a fancy food trend easy enough for any Cheater Chef to do at home. You just have to score the eggs.

  • Lately, we’ve stumbled on chefs plopping runny eggs on everything. Why not, they create their own sauce. No need to learn how to poach in simmering water either. Just fry and serve on almost anything.
  • Runny eggs can transform/chef up salads and green vegetable side dishes.
  • We’ve seen eggs on all kinds of salads starting with the classic French Frisee with crispy lardons and fried egg perched on top. Take the old standard wilted spinach salad with bacon dressing and swap out the hard-cooked egg with a sunny-side up. For the Caesar, dress the romaine with a light olive oil and fresh lemon juice vinaigrette (anchovies optional) and top with fried eggs and some shaved Parmesan. Fry eggs for a salad in olive oil or other neutral oil. You don’t want butter on a salad. You’ll love the warm/cold component of these dishes.
  • One of our favorite summer green vegetable sides or first courses is tender green beans with onion and pancetta topped with a fried egg and Parmesan cheese like in the photo. Notice the rustic beauty of the crispy egg white edges. You can’t get that with poached. Follow the same path with asparagus or a bowlful of fresh baby peas. This summer, Hollandaise is out, pure runny yolk is in. Who needs all that buttery sauce, anyway?
  • Runny eggs baked right on brick oven pizzas are another trend. At home cook the eggs in a skillet and add to the pizza comes out of the oven. You’ll appreciate the foolproof consistency of cooking them separately.
  • Fried eggs and pasta make a good match, too. Imagine a runny egg oozing into a bowl of orecchiette with broccoli rabe and Italian sausage. When you stop and think about it, any lightly dressed olive oil and garlic pasta tossed with vegetables could benefit from a fried egg.
  • For years we’ve been brunching on our Sunday burgers Benedict made with last night’s grilled hamburgers topped with a bright sunny-side-up egg. Add roasted peppers, watercress, spinach, you name it. And then there’s always hash.
  • Deviled eggs have always been a favorite on the home front, but now chefs are paying them more attention. Lately, the devils are paired with fancy seafood like shrimp, crab meat, lobster, and smoked salmon. Chop and stir your choice into the yolk mixture or garnish each with a pretty bite.
  • They also work well with salads. Imagine a bed of mustardy watercress and local tomatoes adorned with a deviled egg. Or, deconstruct the Caesar again, this time with romaine spears and deviled eggs flavored with anchovy and Parmesan curls. No matter how you apply them, deviled eggs are welcome at parties casual or fancy. Just select the smallest size egg for easier serving and eating.

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