When I received my copy of Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi, this recipe was at the top of the list. Then as I paged through the book, my list kept growing and growing until it covered an entire sheet of paper.
Nevertheless, this recipe stuck in my mind. That happens to you too, right? Out of an entire page of recipes, and recipes from other books, there's always those few that stay right in the front of your mind. The ones you can't stop thinking about until you just bite the bullet and make them?
So, when I received my Misfits Market box and it had two very large leeks, and a nice bunch of kale, I knew they were destined for this recipe. Now, Ottolenghi calls for spinach in his recipe but I say, use what you've got. I enjoy spinach, but I prefer kale so this substitution was to my advantage.
I also didn't have the preserved lemons, and while it's not a perfect substitute, I did go ahead and make my own veggie stock (something that I do at least once a month to alleviate food waste) and so I added a little lemon peel this time around for a lemony flavor. How's that for a run-on sentence?
In the scheme of Ottolenghi recipes, this is an easy one, and it is both healthy and delicious. I personally loved the za'atar oil drizzled over the top and felt like this added loads of flavor to an otherwise simple dish. I made this on a Sunday morning for brunch and it was best served straight out of the skillet, immediately. That said, it also held up in the refrigerator well. I enjoyed it several mornings prior to work during the weekday.
Healthy, delicious, and simple. A total winner in my book!
Braised Eggs with Leek, Kale, Feta, and Za'atar
Adapted from Ottolenghi Simple
by Yotam Ottolenghi
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 extra-large leeks (or 4 smaller), trimmed and cut into 1/4" slices (6 cups)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1/2 small preserved lemon, seeds discarded, skin and flesh finely chopped (2-1/2 tablespoons)*
1-1/4 cups vegetable stock*
7 ounces baby spinach or kale (use whatever greens you have on hand)
6 large eggs
3-1/2 ounces feta, broken into 3/4"inch pieces
1 tablespoon za'atar
Notes: I used kale because it's what I had on hand. Use whatever green you happen to have on hand. I also make my own veggie stock, so since I didn't have preserved lemon I added some lemon peel to my veggie stock to help carry over some lemon flavor.
Put the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil into a large saute pan with a lid and place over medium-high heat. Once the butter starts to foam, add the leeks, salt to taste, and plenty of pepper. Fry for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft. Add the cumin, lemon (if using), (this is also where I added the kale sine is heartier and needs a longer cooking time) and vegetable stock and boil rapidly for 4-5 minutes, until most of the stock has evaporated. If you're using spinach, this is the time to add the spinach and cook for 1 minute, until wilted, then decrease the heat to medium.
Use a large spoon to make 6 indentations in the mixture and break 1 egg into each space. Sprinkle the eggs with a pinch of salt, dot the feta around the eggs, then cover the pan. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.
Mix the za'atar with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and brush over the eggs. Serve at once, straight from the pan.