A plate of scrambled eggs is an easy option any morning. But eggs have a lot to offer beyond the usual breakfast recipe — at under $1.50 per dozen on average nationwide, eggs make a cheap and easy addition to nearly any meal.
January is National Egg Month — and you'll be surprised at all the ways you can celebrate. Click through to see how you can use eggs to make your meals even tastier.
Add Pizzazz to Pizza
Add this delicious hack to one of these easy pizza recipes: Wait until the cheese on top of your pizza is melted and bubbling, then crack an egg onto the pie for each portion. Bake for a few more minutes until the whites are set but the eggs are still soft. The combination of yolks, cheese and salty meats is superb.
If you're looking for a healthier version, an egg also works perfectly on top of spinach pizza. It's a sort of quick-and-dirty version of eggs Florentine, one of the standard egg recipes in the classic French repertoire.
Ramen gives you as much freedom for innovation as pizza does. Veggies, steak, fish, tofu, chicken — anything goes. It's just noodles and broth, after all.
Whether nostalgia draws you back to the cheap packaged ramen of your college days, or foodie conviction takes you to artisanal noodles and homemade broth, your bowl of choice is all the better for a halved, soft-boiled egg or two added at the last minute.
If you want to go full-on authentic, make it a Japanese-style marinated soft-boiled egg or "ajitsuke tamago." Marinate the cooked, peeled eggs in your refrigerator in a diluted mixture of soy, mirin and sake for up to 12 hours. Then, slice them in half lengthwise and drop them in a steaming-hot bowl of ramen noodles.
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Make a Better Mash
Really good mashed potatoes are more than a sponge for gravy — they're a tasty side dish in their own right. And you can make mouth-watering potatoes by simply using an egg.
Just after you mash the potatoes, while they're still hot and steaming, whisk the yolks from two pasteurized eggs into a quarter-cup of milk or cream and stir the mixture into your spuds. Your guests will wonder how you made your potatoes so rich.
For a family-style dinner with leftover mashed potatoes, mix them with the works — cheese, onions, fully cooked bacon, whatever you have in the fridge — and brown them up in a cast-iron skillet. Alternatively, shape the loaded potatoes into ovals and dip them first in the leftover whites then into breadcrumbs. Fry, bake or deep-fry the resulting croquettes as a side dish or light lunch.
Add Bang to Your Burgers
Burgers practically beg for an egg, and not just because of the delectably rich combination of beef and egg yolk — the egg also helps keep all the other toppings from sliding off.
For a Southwestern-style burger, for example, take the best parts of chilaquiles and do a burger mash-up. Top the patty with roasted tomatillo-cilantro salsa and a spoonful of warm black beans. Top with a fried egg, a few thin slices of avocado and sprinkle with queso fresco.
In truth, you can spice up any type of burger with an egg. A few add-ons that go particularly well with fried eggs include sauteed onions and mushrooms, and aged white cheddar with chives and bacon.
Make Your Soups Super
Soups and sauces have long used egg yolks as a thickening agent. When whisked quickly into a hot, cream-based soup or sauce, the mixture of egg yolk and cream forms a "liaison," a classic finishing touch found in numerous French recipes.
But eggs can do more for your liquid meal than just make a soup thick and silky. You can make just about any broth-based soup — vegetable, chicken noodle and beef work well — sturdier by stirring in a beaten egg, as you'd see in Italian stracciatella or Chinese "egg drop" soup.
You can also finish and enrich a soup by poaching eggs right in the broth. Bring your soup to a simmer, then slide an egg or two into the pot and cook for three minutes. When you cut into the egg with your spoon, the yolk will spill out and add its flavor and richness to the bowl.
Punch Up Pasta
Pasta and eggs have a long history: Egg noodles, lasagna, pasta carbonara and fresh, homemade pasta all put the marvelous egg to good use. But you can do more.
Beat one egg with a generous pinch of Parmesan for each serving of pasta. Add hot, drained pasta of any shape to a saute pan with a little extra-virgin olive oil and set the heat to medium. Stir in the eggs until they just start to set, and take the pan off the stove — the residual heat will continue cooking the eggs.
Put your own spin on this dish by adding steamed vegetables or cooked pancetta to the noodles before adding the eggs.
With fresh tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and peppers, ratatouille signals the start of summer just as reliably as strawberries, solstice and school breaks. For an idyllic summer Sunday, add an egg to ratatouille and call it brunch.
You can add egg to ratatouille in one of three ways — poached, fried or baked. Roasted, caramelized ratatouille works well with a fried egg, and a soft, poached egg melds beautifully with the classic stewed version.
To make a roasted ratatouille, simply mix all the ingredients and roast them on a sheet pan until caramelized, stirring occasionally for about 35 minutes. Start frying the eggs just before the ratatouille finishes and top each serving with one.
Use a similar technique with the classic stewed version of the vegetable dish. Prepare the ratatouille on the stove and, as it approaches doneness, poach the eggs in a separate pan and add them to each serving.
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Liven Up Leftovers
Are eggs healthy? Although they're undoubtedly high in cholesterol, they don't have much impact on blood cholesterol in healthy people.
In fact, the benefits of eggs are clear: They're high in protein, pack plenty of vitamins and minerals, and their fat is mostly unsaturated. Compared to meats and cheeses with their high levels of saturated fat, eating eggs is a relatively virtuous way to add protein to your diet.
Think of them the next time you create a meal out of leftovers, for example. Instead of frying up leftover potatoes and vegetables with sausage, bacon, ham or some other option that's high in sodium and saturated fat, whisk up a few eggs and turn those leftovers into a frittata. You'll end up with a meal that's still tasty and high in protein, but much healthier.
Make Tomato Sauce … Saucier
Want an anytime egg dish that's fuss-free and packed with flavor? Just cook them for a few minutes in your favorite form of tomato sauce, and you're ready to serve a delicious meal. The version you're probably most familiar with is Mexican-style huevos rancheros, which combines the eggs with salsa, but there are other, equally tasty variations.
For example, you could simmer the eggs in an Italian-style tomato sauce with a splash of chile heat, to make what's called eggs "fra diavolo." The North African equivalent is shakshouka, which adds cumin and a fiery paste called harissa to the eggs for a more dramatic flavor profile. It's often served with a dollop of thick yogurt to mute the heat.
If you're thinking about eggs for dinner, some combination of bread, salad and one other side dish would nicely round out your meal.
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Upgrade Your Grilled Cheese
A grilled cheese sandwich is a light, quick meal, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for the garden-variety sandwich. Eggs provide a quick upgrade path for this simple favorite.
You can roll with this in a couple ways. One is to dip your whole sandwich into beaten egg, as you would for a Monte Cristo sandwich, before frying it. The other is to slide a sunny-side egg on top of the finished sandwich, or a soft-poached egg if you're not certain of your sunny-side skills. The egg makes it a richer, knife-and-fork kind of dish.
If you want an upscale version you can serve to company, you can make the French sandwich called "croque madame." Add a slice of ham to the sandwich, top it with a basic white sauce, and broil it for a few moments to brown the sauce before adding your egg.
A.J. Andrews contributed to the reporting for this article.