Veggie & Egg Tower of Power

I know it sounds dorky and a tad cliché, but my mom is my best friend. As I’ve grown up into a real, ‘adult’ person, she’s become less my authority figure, and more my buddy. We like all the same things, save for my obsession with chlorella and her obsession with jube jubes (sorry mum, you know it’s true).
She came all the way from Toronto last weekend to visit me in Copenhagen. Looking back, we didn’t really “do” much except hang out, eat, and sit on my sofa, yapping until we collapsed. In between verbal marathons, I fed us veggies. And on the morning she left, I created a special and scrumptious meal to fill her with as much love as I could possibly muster in food form. Knowing she had a long flight back across the Atlantic, something both filling and energizing was in order – and a dish so delish she would want to come back very soon.

I suppose this creation could be compared to eggs Benedict, but without the defining hollandaise sauce, that meal is just, well, eggs on toast with a slice of ham, right?  And my version nixes the bread in favour of roasted sweet potatoes. Plus there’s spinach. And caramelized onions. And rich, gooey tomatoes. Okay, this is nothing like eggs Benedict. It’s a whole new kind of awesome loaded with flavour, texture, stunning colours and satisfaction. Comfort food for the kind of person that feels like going for a walk instead of back to bed after breakfast. Behold the Veggie & Egg Tower of Power. 
The other reason I wanted to post this recipe, is because I realized I have never written anything about eggs here at My New Roots. I suppose this is because I don’t eat them very often, and because I try to stick to mostly vegan ingredients so that everyone can enjoy my dishes. But it’s time. We all want to know a little something about those curious little orbs, don’t we? Yes.

Incredible, Edible 
Obviously eggs are a huge subject matter that brings up all kinds of issues: the cholesterol question, ethics in raising chickens, salmonella, etc. Although these are all relevant topics, I am going to focus on just one specific topic today and maybe tackle the rest of it another time. Deal? I’ve only got so much free time.  
The thing I love most about eggs may surprise you: it’s lecithin. What the heck is that?, you ask. I bet if you were to go into your fridge or pantry right now, you could find at least one packaged food that contains this stuff, especially if you’ve got some ice cream lurking around, yoghurt, cheese, margarine, even bread or granola bars. 
Lecithin is a nutrient produced by the liver, and is found in both whole and processed foods. Its function in the body is to emulsify fats, and enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, namely vitamin A. The big reason for consuming lecithin however is the fact that nearly 1/3 of your brain is made of the stuff. Did you get that?! 30% of your brain’s dry matter is lecithin. Seriously. You can imagine then, that lecithin is rather vital to proper brain function, increasing mental activity and enhancing memory. Lecithin also exhibits a calming effect and can be helpful in reducing hyperactivity. What’s more, lecithin protect against gallstone formation, high blood pressure, and cholesterol excesses.[1]

Whole food sources of lecithin include egg yolks, rice bran and soy beans. Processed foods often contain soy lecithin to ensure that the fats and water-based substances do not separate, and to make the food creamier.  It is added to baked goods to prevent the dough from sticking and to improve its ability to rise. Because soy is a very inexpensive and widely cultivated crop, it makes sense to use its byproduct in food processing (soy lecithin comes from the production of soy oil). 
The lecithin found in eggs is of high quality and should be eaten with enthusiasm, not fear! Does this mean that egg white omelets are a thing of the past? In my opinion, yes. So much of the good stuff is contained in that gorgeous yolk, but here’s the kicker: you have to keep those bad boys runny. Lecithin is a very delicate nutrient and is destroyed with heat. You know that when the yolks are hard, as in scrambled eggs or hard-boiled eggs, you’ve gone too far and the lecithin is no longer viable. Poaching and soft boiling are therefore your best choices for preserving the many health benefits of that precious lecithin. Fried eggs are best avoided because of the problems with fried fats. 


How to cook eggs with runny yolks, 2 ways

For the perfect soft boiled egg: 
1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil (no need to use a large pot for this; the water level only needs to come halfway up the egg as long as you use a lid)
2. Drop the number of desired eggs into the pot. Set timer. For medium eggs, 6 minutes. For large eggs, 7 minutes. Cover with a lid. 
3. When the time is up, remove eggs and run briefly under cold water. Crack open shell and eat. 
For the perfect poached egg:
1. Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil, add one tablespoon of vinegar, and reduce to a gentle simmer. 
2. Crack one egg at a time into a teacup and carefully tip it into the water bath. With a spoon, gently encourage the white to encase the yolk, if desired. 
3. Set the timer for 4 minutes. 
4. When the time is up, remove egg with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to remove any excess water. If you are cooking more than one egg at a time, keep the cooked ones in a little bit of poaching water to keep warm. 
This recipe is a tad funny: there are surprisingly few ingredients for the lengthy directions that follow. Although no part of the process is difficult or complicated, it requires a little coordination. I suggest reading through all the directions before preparing or cooking anything, as the end product comes together very quickly in a time-sensitive manner (as are most dishes that deal with hot eggs, and runny yolks).

Make sure to choose a sweet potato with some considerable girth, as you will cut it widthwise into discs, which act as the base for the other ingredients. Otherwise, slice the root lengthwise into strips.  


Veggie & Egg Tower of Power

Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 giant sweet potato (750g / 26 oz.)
200 grams / 7 oz. cherry tomatoes
4 generous fistfuls of baby spinach (approx. 150 grams / 5 oz.) 
2 medium red onions
4 free-range, organic eggs
1 Tbsp. vinegar
ghee or coconut oil
extra virgin olive oil (optional)
sea salt & pepper
chili flakes  
Directions:
1. Start by caramelizing the onions. Peel and slice the onions into rounds. Heat some ghee or oil in a skillet, add onions and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally (not too often, or they will not brown) until dark, soft and sweet – approx. 30-45 minutes. Do not wash pan after use. 
2. Preheat oven to 400 °F/200 °C. Slice sweet potatoes across their width into ¼”/6 mm round discs. Coat with a little ghee or oil, place in a single layer on 2 baking sheets, leaving one sheet with a little space for the tomatoes. Wash and slice tomatoes in half. Place on one baking sheet with sweet potatoes, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until everything is soft. Keep in the oven until ready to serve.
3. Once the onions, sweet potatoes and tomatoes have all finished cooking, put a shallow saucepan of water on to boil, stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar. 
4. Wash spinach, but do not spin dry, as the water will serve to steam the leaves while cooking. Add spinach to the onion pan on low heat and stir occasionally until wilted (3-4 minutes). 
5. While the spinach is wilting, poach the egg (see instructions above). 
6. While the eggs are poaching, assemble the plate: place 6-7 slices of roasted sweet potato on the bottom, followed by the wilted spinach and caramelized onions. Scatter the roasted tomatoes around the base with a drizzle of good olive oil. Place the poached egg on top of the stack, sprinkle with chili flakes if desired, and a generous grind of sea salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.    
Are you a vegan? I still love you! This dish is totally stellar without the eggs, so give it a shot. I would suggest however some sort of lube on the top, perhaps Green Giant Cilantro Pesto, or Canary Islands Mojo Sauce. Even a decent drizzle of good quality olive oil would do the trick. 
Mum, I hope this lip-smacking send-off was enough to convince you to come back sometime soon. I ate the leftovers today and thought of you the whole time, hoping you weren’t back home eating jube jubes for lunch. Thanks for the visit. I love you to the moon. 
Source: [1] Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2003.
*   *   *   *   *   *
If you haven’t picked up the March issue of Bon Appetit yet, I would highly recommend you do so. This month’s feature on the Tastemakers of 2012 includes yours truly – an indescribable honor! I’ve been crowned “The Queen of Quinoa“. Dreams do come true.
Have a look online, here.


Copyright 2012 My New Roots at mynewroots.blogspot.com

70 comments

  1. Kasey

    I can never say no to a beautiful runny egg. I totally relate to your relationship with your mom. My mom is my best friend, too, and I laugh thinking about how often I talk to her (every day, pretty much). I always wonder, how do we always have so much to talk about?! Congrats on BA! I loved the issue and I love that they did a little drawing of you!! xo

  2. Bev Weidner (Bev Cooks)

    You just have no idea how much this post massages my soul innards. Seriously. Soft boiled eggs over sweet potatoes, onions, spinach and tomatoes IS MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE THING IN LIFE.

    Sorry about all that screaming. I’m just so excited.

  3. Elenore (E)

    I´m so happy to hear about you having the best time with your mum! Also it´s AMAZING that you have been crowned Queen Quinoa <3 So, here´s to you, tower of power, Sarah! Cheers! (Kombucha champagne;)

  4. Yadsia @ShopCookMake

    I love eggs. I eat two eggs every morning. I know that’s too much cholesterol, so I’ve been eating just one. Good info about the lecithin availability. Will try to poach an egg tomorrow, to see if it works.

  5. Joy

    Hahah love the title of this post. I just had a lot of poached eggs (it’s ok I’m 18 and I can handle the cholesterol). This look fantastic and is sure treat for your mom I bet! Can’t wait till I get the chance to make this for MY mom. Congrats on making it as a tastemaker for bon appetit. you deserve it!

  6. jeni

    oh man, this looks good enough for me to break my usual routine of yogurt and granola. aren’t perfectly runny eggs beautiful and divine in your mouth?

  7. Harriet

    This looks delicious Sarah B! A soft-poached egg on top of veggies is probably as close to a favourite meal as I could ever come, and I love your take on it!

    p.s. I’m snacking down on one of your raw brownies right now! So good. So so so good.

    p.p.s. congrats to the newly crowned queen of quinoa!

  8. Kathryn

    I had no idea about the egg and lecithin or the fact that the yoke needs to remain runny (my fav. way of eating it). I’m so making the Tower of Power – love it!

  9. Sasha

    Congratulations Queen of Quinoa! It is the perfect title for you.

    I actually read this while eating a poached egg with a runny yolk on quinoa with lots of herbs and some salsa on the side (seems kind of perfect with your royal title and the information about eggs). (Runny) eggs yolks have been a long time favourite of mine and I have gotten numerous lectures from friends and family for getting more excited about the yellow than the white. Needless to say, I liked this post a lot.

  10. la domestique

    This recipe looks so good- I’ve never combined sweet potatoes and tomatoes, but my mouth waters just thinking about it. My mom and I are very close as well, and no one understands me like her, which is so special. I’m glad you got to be with your mom!

  11. Sylvia

    Yay! I just found out you’re Canadian! Quick question: I have tried backing a few of your cakes (carrot cake, pumpkin birthday cake)and they always come out a bit underdone in the middle even though I follow the recipe exactly. Is it possible there’s a difference in baking altitude or something between Copenhagen and Montreal?

  12. Ladies Holiday

    Firstly, that is a little work of art, standing so proudly on your plate. The roasted veg and onions look perfect!
    So interesting about the Lecithin!
    My children’s class hatched eggs several years ago and we ended up with the chicks (don’t ask)those girls (the chickens) live in the lap of luxury in the coop we built…but I seldom eat the eggs. I’m vegan, but not super strict when it comes to the eggs, because our hens give them freely and we love them dearly and care for them. It is such an intersting thing to ponder.

  13. Katherine Martinelli

    This breakfast sounds unbelievably delicious, and nutritious as well. I love every single ingredient. Congrats on being a Bon Appetite Tastemaker! It’s a huge honor, and a well deserved one :-)

  14. Kitchenette Finds

    Veg for breakfast is my second favourite morning trend, right behind dessert for breakfast. It’s important to keep these things in balance! I love a stack of spinach with garlic and mustard topped with a free range egg.

  15. T like Bubble ...

    I just found your blog and I am absolutely in love. I really enjoy healthy food: quinoa, amaranth, sweet potatoes are my staple foods and recently I discovered ayurveda which teaches you to nurture your body not starve it. In the west everyone tries to put you on a low carb diet and it’s refreshing to find someone who makes beautiful wholesome food

  16. The Full Plate Blog

    I think I have found my new favorite “peer” blog!!! I am absolutely in awe of your photography, wonderful recipes and… {drum roll}, your cite in Bon Appetit, well, that is just about the most fabulous thing ever!! I truly enjoy your recipes and ideas… pinning them consistently onto my “recipes I can’t wait to try” board. Cheers to your recognition in print! So, so wonderful!!!

  17. Averykootenays

    I made this as a special treat for my boyfriend and he said it was the best breakfast hes ever had! I feel the same way :)
    I also just had to add some fresh local goat cheese.. Couldn’t resist.
    THANKYOU!!

  18. Ash

    Yum! Can’t wait to try this one out!
    I’ve been following the blog for a while and your recipes never disappoint–I’ve been passing them on to all of my family and friends :)

    I had a question: a few weeks ago you linked us to an interview and in the text you mention that you couldn’t live without your oregano oil. I’d never heard of it so I looked it up and was surprised by the health benefits associated with it— I bought a bottle of pure oregano oil but am not sure what to do with it. I tried mixing a drop with an 8oz glass of water but it burned my mouth. Could you do a post on oil of oregano and how it’s best utilized? :)
    -Ash

  19. City Share

    I totally understand the comparison to eggs benedict. I compare any stacked dish with a poached or soft cooked egg to them too. What a great way to get veggies at breakfast. Sounds like you had a great visit with your mom. So nice.

  20. Jennifer

    What about an omelet that isn’t quite cooked all the way through? So that the inside is still a bit runny? Is that enough lecithin/runniness to “count”? I’m so bummed I didn’t know runny egg=healthier egg. I used to love runny eggs but had begun full on scrambling or hard boiling for fear of the “improperly cooked egg” hype. Lately though I’ve been groovin on an omelet with wilted spinach and goat cheese…yum! But then was getting concerned when it was still a bit runny…Which leads me to a question about how to properly wash an egg before using it. Our eggs come from a local farmer and there are the occasional feathers, straw, dirt etc. What is the protocol before using?

  21. Tessa's Mom

    Made this for lunch today – was absolutely delicious – thanks so much for the healthy, tasty recipes :)

  22. arre

    Yummm! Just had this for dinner (added roasted red peppers and sautéed mushrooms to mine) and even my meat-loving husband raved about it! Deeelish!

  23. Mandy B

    I found your blog through Bon Appetit and am so glad you were featured! Looking forward to following your future posts and have already made the veggie tower (delic)!

  24. gill-mac

    This looks amazingly delicious! I have a question. As a fellow Canadian living in Copenhagen, where the heck do you find decent-sized sweet potatoes that aren’t extremely expensive/imported from halfway across the world? The only ones I’ve been able to find are shrink-wrapped and really measly. I miss my Canadian abundance of big beautiful sweet potatoes! And I really want to find some so I can make this recipe!

  25. leigh

    Hi, I hope that I didn’t miss the perhaps, obvious answer to this, but you left the sweet potato skin on? And it doesn’t get tough from roasting? I have always eaten white potato skins, but never sweet. my loss? Thanks, your blog is beautiful

  26. Anonymous

    Just made this and it was/is totally delicious! I used sweet potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, red capsicum, red onion, 1 field mushroom, and poached eggs, one of my eggs turned out solidly cooked through, the other, a nice runny yolk… Will try it with spinach etc. another time… Love this dish, thanks for sharing it, am telling friends about it on facebook with a link to this blog. :)

  27. Unknown

    I have two Vegetarian grown kids who just left after the holidays. No hate mail — but I layered a couples slices of ham at the bottom of the stack, because they weren’t looking. I know. I know.

  28. Anonymous

    I came across your blog yesterday and just had to try this recipe. I just made it today and it tastes amazing! Thanks for sharing your recipe I will be making your enlightened tahini sauce next! Will definitely be adding your blog to my list of favorites!

  29. Monique

    So, I just tried this recipe and it was AMAZING!!!!! Found your blog a couple months ago but made the decision yesterday that I must make 6 of your recipes this week. This is the first I tried. Even though I cringed at the thought of runny eggs… you showed me what I’ve been missing. So happy I found you and excited to cook some more soon :) Next up… the best coconut soup, ever :)

    With love and grattitude!

    Mo

  30. Chelsea G

    I made this yesterday for lunch and substituted homemade tomatillo salsa for the roasted tomatoes. It was the most amazing combination of flavors! My new obsession is sweet potatoes, and they are perfection in this dish, especially paired with the runny yolk and carmelized onions. I also added sauteed leeks. Yummy! Thank you, thank you. My next attempt: The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread. I am so glad I found your blog :)

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  37. claudia

    I love your blog.
    I just love it.
    This is finally a way of enjoying vegetables in a different way.
    I’m eating now this recipe (and it’s delicious), but i’ve been making a couple from your blog now. And you made my boyfriend eat kale with PLEASURE!! :)
    THANK YOUUUUUU!!!

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  40. Nina

    Oh my goodness I made this recipe for breakfast this morning and it was to die for! Because I have had such bad luck poaching eggs in the past, I decided to make my egg over-easy which was just as delicious. I garnished it with a bit of fresh basil and some chopped leftover roasted garlic, and had some clementine slices on the side. It was so filling that I couldn’t even finish my whole little plate!

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