Monday, 13 July 2009

Meat Free Mondays - Oeufs à la Grecque

Paul McCartney thinks that having a meat-free day at least once a week will slow climate change and reduce world hunger. I don't know enough about carbon emissions to know if the first part of that is true. I am fairly sure that there is more than enough food to feed the world (sustainably? don't know) and that hunger in the world is caused by politics and economics, not steak.

However, I feel terribly virtuous if I eat plant-based meals a couple of days a week. Even more so if it is something low-carb instead of pasta with a vegetable sauce... So I have decided to put scepticism aside and buy into Meat Free Mondays.

Something that I have always loved is Oeufs à la Florentine - eggs on a bed of spinach topped with a cheesy, nutmeggy bechamel sauce. So I thought I would head in that sort of direction, but I had a big bunch of chard instead of spinach, and the only cheese I had on hand was a nice Greek feta. So I decided to take my Florentine by way of Athens and Greek up the flavours.

Oeufs à la Grecque
Serves 2 (served by itself or 5 if you stretch it with some rice and a dessert)

1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 courgette, chopped
1 big bunch of chard, washed and shredded
2 or 3 marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
olive oil
dried dill
5 eggs
1 block of feta

In a fairly deep saute pan, heat a slurp of olive oil and soften the onions and garlic in it. Add the other vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until the chard has wilted down. This takes much longer than spinach. Season with a sprinkling of dried dill tops (I don't often bother with fresh dill - the flavour is better but it invariably goes manky before I finish the bunch).

Scrape the vegetables into an ovenproof dish. My flat Le Creuset dutch oven is my weapon of choice for these things because it looks so pretty, but a pyrex lasagne dish would do the job and be easier on the wrists.

Make 5 indentations in the vegetables and crack an egg into each one. Crumble the feta over the top. Bake at 190C until the eggs are cooked. Maybe 20 minutes? Delicious.


hungryandfrozen said...

This sounds beautiful! Look at those gorgeous orange-yellow egg yolks! I eat quite a lot of meat-free meals, it's just easier for me in terms of cost. But I do love it :)

NKP said...

I am in agreement with you, politics are the primary culprit in world poverty and hunger.
I love the greek style egg dish, and what a great pan!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Laura - my husband is a hard-core carnivore, so we don't eat many meat-free meals.

Natashya - isn't it lovely? It's my favourite.

Peter M said...

A very enticing dish with these Greek ingredients.

As for Paul McCartney, perhaps he should limit all the flights he takes around the world, no?

kat said...

What an interesting dish! Perhaps instead of eating vegetarian he should stress eating locally grown & raised foods, that would cut the carbon footprint.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Peter - it would probably help!

Kat - I agree - if your meat-free meals are all airfreighted produce from the other side of the world, it won't help at all, will it?

MrOrph said...

I try to have at least one meat-free meal a day. But never a whole day. That'd be the wife.

This dish looks very interesting. I've never seen anything like it.

maybelle's mom said...

Meat free meals for me are about tastes. I grew up eating meat free at home so I like to eat a lot of meat free things at home.

Also meat is a real drain on the budget.

Baked eggs are a wonderful meat free. I often make them on ratatouille. But, I think I will try this.

Simona Carini said...

This looks very nice! Dill is one of the few things that does well in my garden, so any suggestion for using some is quite welcome.

Alicia Foodycat said...

MrO - I often don't have meat during the day, so it's really only one meal I am skipping!

MM - I grew up in a largely vegetarian household, but since taking up with a South African I have eaten loads of meat almost every day. I totally agree about them on ratatouille.

Simona - lucky you! Almost anything with spinach and cheese is better for some dill.

mscrankypants said...

I was staring at a billboard yesterday for a popular chain restaurant's "rainforest-friendly coffee" and I wondered how massive feedlots, millions of acres of irrigated wheat and the electricity needed to power the restaurants figured into things.

Anyway, I'm just trying to say I have no idea what's virtuous and what's not any more, but your eggs look lovely, the Greeks make a beautiful feta and I love Le Crueset, even though I use my pieces only a few times a year. My oval baking dish played the role of bain marie for a lemon delicious pudding last week and could only turn out stunning in the French blue water bath.

Um, can you tell I'm procrastinating on a job application?

Sam said...

I'm looking after my friends chickens at the moment, this would be a perfect way to use some of the beautiful eggs I keep finding!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Cranky - lemon delicious is one of my all-time favourite things! Now go do your application.

Sam - I definitely think you should use those eggs!

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Foodycat, I so totally agree with you about the reasons for the crisis in world hunger. But aside the politics, I also agree that it is important to give your body a rest from the heaviness of certain foods, like red meat and pasta and breads and such. Oh I would never give them up completely, but I do like giving my digestive system time to recoup.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Beautiful dish--it looks absolutely delicious. I try to eat meat free one or two days a week or at the minimum, several meals a week, maybe I should join you in Meat Free Mondays. ;-)

Alicia Foodycat said...

Teresa - a bit of a cleanse is good from time to time!

Deb - Paul McCartney will thank you for it!


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