Restarting where I left off. In a recent post I shared the recipe for Cranberry Beans with Rhubarb1. Here I will talk about the leafy greens you saw in that post's photos.
The current Cook the Books selection, The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F. G. Haghenbeck, made me think a lot about what we need/want to know about an artist's life. In this case it is actually two artists: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. My encounter with the work of both happened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art2 almost 20 years ago. I learned there a bit about their life, enough to complement my appreciation of their paintings. I admit I was more impressed by Rivera than by Kahlo. Rivera's The Flower Carrier3 is in the museum's permanent collection and I look at it every time I visit.
The novel didn't add to my appreciation of Kahlo4 or Rivera and it goes into some areas of their life where I was not eager to go. In reading what is described as "a fictional account" of Kahlo's life, it was tricky to suspend my disbelief. I found that I prefer to be either in fiction land or in biography land, not some place in between. Once again, I am thankful to be a member of our special reading club, because I would not have chosen this book on my own, and reading it stimulated some interesting thoughts and pushed me to be clear with myself about the reasons why it didn't resonate with me.
While I was reading the book, I thought about how in the kitchen I use ingredients a bit like a painter chooses his/her colors. I usually follow a recipe, but sometimes I just use what I have and see (taste, actually) if it works. This is particularly true with recipes that use leafy green vegetables, which grow according on their own plans in my serendipitous garden: Red Russian kale, collard greens, rainbow chard (bietola). I harvest them weekly pretty much year round and try to cook them in various ways. My husband is not wild about them, preferring spinach, while I love them. One evening that I had some of my tomato sauce (sugo di pomodoro) made with roasted tomatoes, I tried pairing them and liked the result, which you see in the photo above with the beans. Then I thought I could arrange the greens into a nest a cook an egg inside. The result is currently my favorite way of eating the greens.
What I like about this recipe is that it can be made in separate steps. I can harvest and cook the fresh greens (which would otherwise wilt quickly) and store them in the refrigerator until I need them. I make tomato sauce often enough that I always have some handy and fresh eggs (uova fresche) are permanent inhabitants of my refrigerators. The final step of putting it all together takes a short time.
Print-friendly version of briciole's recipe for Eggs nested in leafy green vegetables
- A bunch of leafy green vegetables, 3/4-1 pound: kale, chard and/or collard greens in the proportion you prefer
- Tomato sauce (my recipe is in this post5)
- Fine sea salt
- Fresh eggs, preferably from pastured poultry
Wash the greens and separate the leaves from the stalks. (Set aside the chard stalks and make something with them, like a gratin6.) Make a stack of leaves, then roll it into a tight roll starting from the base of the leaves. Hold the roll with one hand and with the other cut thin slices across (as if it were a salame).
Place the pile of cut green in a large skillet and cook them in the water they hold until wilted, then cover the skillet and cook on gentle heat until tender, 8 minutes or so. Stir every couple of minutes and make sure there is enough water to prevent sticking. Salt to taste.
At this point you can continue or let the greens cool, store them in a cover container in the refrigerator for a day or two.
When ready, take a portion of the greens per person to serve and either cook them all together in a larger skillet or make individual portions in smaller ones: 2 ounces / 55 g of cooked greens per egg is the amount I use, enough to make a nice nest. Prepare only what you will consume. Oil the skillet and warm up the greens. Add the tomato sauce and stir well: 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per 2 ounces / 55 g of cooked greens is the amount I use. When everything is nice and hot, spread the greens evenly and make an indentation for each egg.
Break an egg into each indentation and cook on low heat until the yolk is cooked to your liking. Sprinkle a tiny amount of salt on each egg. I stop the cooking when the white is set and the yolk is still running, because that is how I like it.
Serve immediately in bowls, to keep the nest from spreading too much. Immediately I break the yolk and mix it with the greens, like a painter mixing colors.
I eat this and think it is superb, as the bitter nuance of the greens cuts slightly into the sweet yolk and the latter binds the greens into a satisfying texture.
Admirers of Frida Kahlo may also enjoy this illustrated biography of hers7.
1 Rhubarb and berbere cranberry beans (with recipe)
2 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
3 Diego Rivera: The Flower Carrier
4 Frida Kahlo: Frieda and Diego Rivera
5 Post including my recipe for tomato sauce, which uses my strained roasted tomatoes
6 Gratinéed chard stalks
7 Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Biography by writer Zena Alkayat and artist Nina Cosford
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the uova in nidi di verdura audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]
This is my contribution to the current selection of our Cook the Books hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. (You can find the guidelines for participating in the event on this page.)
This is also my contribution to the 28th edition of Novel Food, the literary/culinary event that Lisa of Champaign Taste and I started some time ago and that I continue to host.
FTC disclosure: I have received the linen free of charge from the manufacturer (la FABBRICA del LINO). I have not and will not receive any monetary compensation for presenting it on my blog. The experience shared and the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.
greens, eggs, kale, chard, collard greens
Thanks for the candid post, Simona. I appreciate Kahlo's works more than Rivera, but I did have to check out The Flower Carrier. Loved it as I love this dish. Great inspiration. Thanks for persevering!
Posted by: Debra | September 28, 2016 at 05:34 PM
You are welcome, Debra. As I wrote, every book contributes something and it is always good to expand one's reading horizon :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | September 29, 2016 at 01:57 PM
The CTB post is up. Thanks for reading The Secret Life Of Frida Kahlo and playing along! Happy Saturday!
Posted by: Debra | October 01, 2016 at 07:19 AM
Simona, I love this leafy green nest to hold a perfectly cooked egg. I am jealous that you are able to go out to your garden, year round to harvest the greens.
Posted by: Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm | October 01, 2016 at 02:29 PM
I love the idea of using food as an art medium! And your dish looks delicious!
Posted by: Amy | Amy's Cooking Adventures | October 01, 2016 at 05:54 PM
Thank you, Debra!
Posted by: Simona Carini | October 02, 2016 at 04:50 PM
Thank you, Wendy. I only wish I were a better gardener :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | October 02, 2016 at 04:51 PM
Thank you, Amy!
Posted by: Simona Carini | October 02, 2016 at 04:51 PM
I agreed with your candid remarks on the novel. That leafy green nest for the egg looks so sweet, and I've got just the cooked greens for it waiting in my fridge.
Posted by: Claudia | October 03, 2016 at 05:51 PM
Looks like a lovely dish! Funny, I read once upon a time in a book by Florentine chef and food historian Giuliano Bugialli that this dish (more or less) was the real, original Eggs Florentine. But then I've heard from others to say that there is no such dish in Florence--it's totally French. Your take?
Funny thing about Rivera and Kahlo. When I was growing up, it was Rivera who was, by far, the more famous of the two. These days it seems it's the opposite. Frida is everywhere and Rivera--at least here in the US--is practically forgotten.
Posted by: Frank | October 07, 2016 at 03:54 AM
Thank you, Claudia. Let me know if you try making the recipe :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | October 07, 2016 at 07:33 AM
Interestingly enough, Frank, I did not hear of Uova alla fiorentina while living in my home region of Umbria, but that has only relative meaning. As you know, food in Italy is quite local, and my parents where both from an area north of Rome. On the other hand, in its basic incarnation, a dish of greens and eggs makes sense in Central Italy, where vegetable gardens and/or foraging provide greens and eggs are popular.
I think Rivera's popularity this side of the country remains high due to the work he did here, but certainly Kahlo is now more famous. Still, if I could own a painting by either of the two, I'd want The Flower Carrier.
Posted by: Simona Carini | October 07, 2016 at 07:43 AM
This looks light and healthy Simona, unlike a lot of heavy mexican dishes-- like your choice!
Posted by: Delaware Girl Eats | October 10, 2016 at 03:27 AM
Thank you, Cathy!
Posted by: Simona Carini | October 11, 2016 at 11:04 PM