August? Already? This summer has been too busy for my liking, and so this month we’re looking to slow things way down. Current plans include: swimming, lazing in the sun, eating outdoors, catching fireflies, and showing the girls the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In the city, fall comes on slowly –– the urban heat effect pushes off the turning of the leaves until late November. But here in the country, the change is sudden. This is my call to action; there are peaches to slurp and watermelon seeds to spit. I haven’t made it in yet, but I’m planning a dip in a swimming hole or two. And maybe just a little more sangria, for good measure.
And soon, there will be piles of tomatoes. I have four San Marzano plants sagging under the weight of their fruit, as well as a beefsteak, green zebra, and four cherry tomato plants. We’ve seen a handful of tomatoes in the past few weeks, but two weeks from now, there’s going to be a deluge. In preparation for this glorious day, I’m hunting for tomato recipes. And these baked eggs in tomatoes are pretty much perfect. One or two per person served with bread or grain makes for a satisfying summer dinner. The eggs stay incredibly moist and take on the tomato’s acidity beautifully. Also hiding in there is fresh summer garlic, beautiful baby spinach, and buttery Kerrygold Skellig sweet cheddar. The flavors come together in a gorgeous symphony of summer flavor that will make you want to savor every bite to the fullest. I know that’s a lot of hype for a baked egg recipe, but I’m standing by it.
Baked Eggs in Tomatoes (adapted from Martha Stewart)
serves two as a meal, four as a side
For this recipe to work well, it’s important to select the right tomatoes. Pick firm tomatoes with unblemished skin. Since tipping can also be an issue, you may want to road test each one by making sure it sits flat.
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 robust, large tomatoes
4 small eggs
1/2 cup baby spinach, cut into ribbons
1/4 cup flavorful cheddar, crumbled
2 tablespoons chives, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle olive oil into a cast iron skillet.
Cut tops off the top third of the tomatoes and scoop out seeds and inside flesh, being careful to keep the sides in thick and tact. Sprinkle the inside of each tomato with a good pinch of sea salt.
Divide the spinach and cheese into four portions and stuff into the four tomatoes.
Break the eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl. Sprinkle each egg with a pinch of sea salt, and then gently tip egg into each of the tomatoes. Top with a sprinkle of chives and several twists of pepper.
Gently place the tomatoes onto the oiled skillet, and carefully slide into the oven. Cook for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the egg whites have set up. (Keep in mind that baked egg yolks tend to stay translucent, so the whites are the best way to gauge done-ness.)
When the whites are firm and cooked through, remove skillet from oven and cool tomatoes for 10 minutes. Serve with good bread, sea salt, and olive oil.