“Like the lettuce. And parsley, you make it into a pesto.”
“But not with basil?”
“No. And then you scoop out a tomato and you put it in the bottom and bake an egg in it.”
“I don’t know, Deb, it sounds kind of weird.”
“It does, right? I mean, pureed lettuce? Blech.”
“So why make it?”
“It’s calling to me.”
Sometimes, I don’t know what I’m getting myself into, and my husband who was just going to grab some Murray’s Bagels for us has pretty much given up trying to understand. But, I’ve had a whole week of errands, working late and after-work engagements and I haven’t had a single home-cooked anything since those wee tartlets and I was fiending for the kitchen by Saturday morning. Fiending.
Even walking to the store, I was wondering what I was getting into. Remembering Luisa’s horrendous spinach pesto experience, I wondered how the flavor of ground up Romaine lettuce could be any less flat, and to be honest, I’m not sure I see the point in making pesto with anything but basil because why mess with what works splendidly? Are we really that desperate for new foods to eat? But, I followed through and we are both very glad that I did.
The pesto really surprised me; that single clove of garlic, parsley and seasoning packed more flavor than I thought it would, but it was subtle enough not to overwhelm the tomato or eggs. (Alex said it tasted “green,” a word he also uses to describe the smell of my Aveda shampoo. I have only a vague understanding of what it means.) We liked it enough to spread some extra on ciabatta toast. I drew the line, though, at sautÃ©ing the lettuce like greens with pancetta, as even the photo accompanying the recipe made it look like slimy mess. I instead crisped up some prosciutto in a pan, my favorite form of “bacon”, and the whole thing came together pretty quickly. I’m totally saving this one for next time I have people over for brunch, and also as a reminder that sometimes, my hunches are wrong in a good way.
Romaine Pesto and Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes
Adapted from Gourmet, September 2006
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large head romaine (about 1 1/2 lb) *
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 oz finely grated parmesan (1/2 cup), plus additional for serving
6 large tomatoes (about 3 inches in diameter)
6 large eggs at room temperature
Strip romaine leaves from stems, reserving both separately, then tear leaves into roughly 2-inch pieces. Measure 4 loosely packed cups of leaves and reserve remainder. With motor running, add garlic to food processor to finely chop. Turn off and add the 4 cups romaine leaves along with the parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cheese, then pulse until finely chopped. With motor running, add remaining cup oil in a slow stream, blending until incorporated.
Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut off about 1/8 inch from top of each tomato with a sharp knife.** Gently scrape out pulp and seeds with a spoon and discard them. Put tomatoes, cut sides up, in a 9-inch glass or ceramic dish and spoon 1 tablespoon romaine-parsley pesto into each tomato (you will have extra pesto). Crack 1 egg into each tomato and season with salt and pepper. Bake eggs in tomatoes until whites are set and yolks are still runny, 18 to 22 minutes.
* I didn’t use nearly this much lettuce. For one, I was only making four eggs, and two, I had a hunch this would make an egregious amount. I may have used 4-6 leaves, tops, and half the oil and parsley.
** I ended up beveling a little sliver off the bottoms, too, to stop them from rolling over in the dish and dumping out their eggs, and you may have guessed happened before I came up with my brilliant solution. Next time I’d put a droplet of oil underneath the beveled tomatoes, as they stuck a little to the bottom, something I should have also seen coming.