I would have walked right past these speckled little eggs at the farmers' market, but Alejandro stopped to inquire and discovered that a pack of ten eggs cost only $1. One dollar? This was the beginning of the cheapest breakfast I have ever had.
I've been served quail eggs before at fancy restaurants, but never has one perched in my own kitchen. When I was short on ideas for what to do with them, I put some feelers out on facebook and twitter. Darya from Summer Tomato suggested sushi, and although it sounded oh so tempting, I didn't have all the ingredients on hand. The light bulb eventually went off (or on?) when my friend Jason mentioned eggs and potatoes. What could be simpler? And, along with showcasing the sweet flavor of the quail eggs, I could use the spicy Sicilian arugula that flourishes in my backyard.
This breakfast is exactly what I love about local, seasonal cooking. A few simple ingredients can produce an extraordinary meal that also happens to be extremely inexpensive. Besides the grilled bread that I made out of a whole wheat loaf from Wild Flour Bakery, this meal for two people cost me about $1.50 – total. Take that Mickey D's!
Ingredients for Quail Eggs with Smashed Potatoes and Arugula
4 quail eggs
3/4 pound of mini white potatoes, washed (don't peel)
1 handful of fresh arugula, roughly chopped
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt, ground pepper
First the potatoes:
Set a pot of water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes. When tender, drain. Next, heat up a skillet and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the whole potatoes. Use a fork to gently smash up the potatoes while they cook. I say "gently" because if you're not careful, they will bounce around, splatter, and may burn you (I speak from experience). When the potatoes are broken up into large chunks, add salt and pepper and let cook for about 5 minutes on high heat. Turn off the heat, add the arugula and toss to combine.
Next the eggs:
Start the eggs when the potatoes are done. Cracking quail eggs is tricky business, but after a few mishaps I figured out a handy technique. The shell is really thin, but under it is a thick membrane that doesn't allow you to break it open like a chicken egg. I used a sharp paring knife, and with a quick swoop, chopped off the narrow end of the egg. From there, pour the egg out into a hot cast iron pan with a glistening layer of olive oil. Cook the egg for a little over a minute and add some salt and pepper.
Assemble the dish:
Dish the potatoes onto a plate, and top with an egg. Drizzle a touch of your expensive olive oil on top, and serve with fresh grilled bread.
Where I shopped:
Quail eggs and small potatoes: Old Oakland farmers' market
Arugula: my backyard
Whole wheat bread: Wild Flour Bakery