Lunch for One: Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce with Onions, Olives, and Wine
Having children changes the way you eat. It just does. Before I had kids, I didn't want to believe that this would happen to me. I was sure that I would be one of those (probably mythical) parents who raises children with open minds and sophisticated pallets. Let's pause for a moment to laugh at pre-2013 me.
Seriously though. My kids are decent eaters. I can usually get them to try at least a bite of most new foods. They eat fresh fruits and veggies, tofu, salmon, whole grains, plain yogurt, etc. Zoe loves pickled beets, calamari, and has even developed a thoroughly unkid-like habit of making and eating bircher muesli. I really shouldn't complain. Except.
Except that I am a woman who craves crazy, gigantic flavours, and my children do not. If they catch sight of even a fleck of herb or onion in a dish, all hope is lost. They whine that black pepper is too spicy for them. Worst of all, they claim to hate all sauces. All sauces. This is ludicrous. One can not live without condiments if one hopes to live a fully realized life. Ketchup and (for Zoe) plain tomato sauce are the sole exceptions to their ban. We can often work around all of this. We make a coconut curry sauce that we pour over our own roast veggies and rice, leaving theirs plain. We crumble strong cheeses on only half a pizza. Still. Sometimes I crave something which really embraces the pungent, briny, spicy, adult flavours I love so dearly.
Twice a week I am afforded the total luxury of sending my toddler to daycare. This time means more to me than I can do justice to here and now, so I will discuss that another day. What it means, though, is that twice a week I can make myself anything I want for lunch. What I want is never something fancy or fussy--certainly nothing with elaborate prep or intensive clean-up that would eat into my precious day. What I want is simple food that is crammed full of stuff that my children would never tolerate. This usually involves doctoring up left-overs using beloved staples from my fridge and pantry. Blue cheese is often involved.
Today I found a small container of left-over tomato sauce, which I had previously flavored with a bit of garlic, salt, and pepper. I decided to pump-up-the jam with black olives, an onion, a splash of red wine, and a very generous pinch of chili flakes. I then poached a pair of eggs in the sauce and ate it directly from the pot, with very good buttered bread for dipping. What I ended up was something like briny, slightly jammy cousin of Shakshuka, only with a different flavour profile. I will admit that it wasn't the prettiest dish in the world, and if I had had any fresh herbs on hand I would have torn some over. But who cares? It was heaven! And If you are not someone who loves very strong flavours, don't worry. This would work equally well with any plain old tomato sauce that you like, either homemade or from a jar. You could also change up the ingredients in any way that strikes your fancy. Torn basil or parsley, feta, capers--whatever your heart desires!
Eggs poached in Tomato Sauce with Onion, Olives, and Wine
2 tsp olive oil or butter
1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 a cup)
A small handful of black olives with pits, pits removed, roughly chopped or torn
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 cup - 1 cup of tomato sauce (enough to give you enough depth to poach your eggs)
Splash of wine (I used red, but either red or white will work)
Coarse salt and pepper
1. Heat oil or butter in a small sauce pan or skillet (mine was 2 quarts)
2. Add the onion, season with salt, pepper, and the chili flakes. Saute until very soft and starting to brown, 5-10 minutes.
3. Add your olives, and give it a stir. Deglaze with a big splash of wine. Dump in your tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
4. Carefully crack your eggs one at a time into a separate bowl. Ease them gently into the sauce. Cover and simmer until the whites are just barely set and the yokes are still oozy.
5. Serve with buttered or oiled bread for dipping.
*Simply skip the eggs. You could also choose to toss in some drained chickpeas for extra nutrition.