Weir Cooking in the City: Baked Eggs with Summer Vegetables

Serves: 6

I've never been a big breakfast person. Maybe it's because the food is so often sweet and I tend to prefer savory before sweet. Or maybe it's because my whole life is about eating and dieting, and it seems that if I start eating too much too early, I'm lost in guilt for the whole day. But I do love these Spanish-inspired baked eggs. You can use any kind of vegetable, depending upon what's in season. And the best part is that you can get the whole dish assembled a day in advance and just bake it at the last minute. Served with Jalapeño-Jack Scones with Chive Butter and a Bellini or mimosa, now we're talking breakfast!

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 1/4 cups peeled, seeded, chopped, and drained tomatoes (canned or fresh)
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/3 cup chicken stock or broth
• 12 eggs
• Pinch of cayenne pepper
• 16 asparagus spears, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths and blanched for 1 minute
• 3/4 cup sweet peas (fresh or frozen), blanched 10 seconds
• 1 large red bell pepper, roasted, cut into 1/4-inch strips
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onion, and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, paprika, and basil. Season with salt and black pepper and simmer until the tomatoes are soft, about 3 minutes.

Increase the heat to high, add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth.

Pour the sauce into a 3-quart ovenproof baking dish.

Break 1 egg at a time into a small bowl and slip the eggs into the sauce, distributing them evenly. Season with the cayenne, salt, and black pepper.

Arrange the asparagus, peas, and roasted pepper strips decoratively around and between the eggs. Season with salt and black pepper.

Bake in the oven until the whites are lightly set and the yolks are still runny, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Wine suggestion: Rosé

Recipe ©2004 Joanne Weir from Weir Cooking in the City, reprinted by permission.