Make the holidays eggciting this year with some fresh recipes to keep the family healthy and happy.
Eggs are nutritious, rich in flavour but affordable enough to make a part or the very centre of your Christmas table, on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or that lovely quiet Day of Goodwill.
Our ancestors, whether hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari or ancient Romans gathering around a celebration table, all relished them.
Not everyone eats turkey at Christmas. The traditional Portuguese Christmas Eve meal, for instance, is bacalhau com todos – codfish, boiled potatoes, cabbage and eggs. But, they’re eating that in the middle of a cold winter, and it just might be a little heavy for sunny South Africa in December.
Here, each family looks to their own cultural heritage and the recipes handed down by grandmothers and aunties. And there are just so many things to make: spicy-eggs masala, vetkoek with chopped egg and bacon filling, chakalaka with eggs poached or fried.
The versatility of eggs means they can be included in dawn-to-dusk meals. From scrambled eggs and omelettes, to family-sized breakfast egg casseroles to feed the crowds staying over.
But where eggs really come into their own is the variety of Christmas bakes.
People wait all year to whip up a batch of Christmas mince pies, get the family to stir the Christmas pudding and make a wish, or labour over a fruit cake, stollen, milk tart or lemon meringue – not to mention malva, pavlova with fresh fruit, and layered trifle made with vanilla cake.
Home-made ice cream and custard are both made creamier with the addition of eggs. And really, what’s a Christmas without custard – or ice cream, for that matter?
Many locals will braai, and adding egg to braai sides enhances even the simplest salad. Think classic Caesar salad with a coddled egg dressing, creamy pasta and devilled egg salad, celery and egg fried rice salad. Even traditional Greek salad, tuna salad and panzanella benefit from a couple of eggs. Remember to scatter chopped hard-boiled eggs over the potato salad as well.
The South African Department of Health’s food-based dietary guidelines state that eggs can be eaten every day, which means that eggs are a great way to increase the nutrient and protein intake of the average South African, especially when making Christmas meals on a budget because eggs remain the most economical animal protein available.
Classic Caesar salad with coddled egg dressing
Coddled egg is an egg that is briefly cooked for 2 minutes, both the yolk and white are still runny. For a Caesar dressing, it is done to make the yolk slightly thicker. This, in turn, allows for a slightly thicker dressing. You can skip the step if you prefer and then use the whole egg not just the yolk.
Serves 6 – 8
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
For the dressing
• 2 whole eggs, dunked in boiling water for 2 minutes
• 2 large cloves garlic, finely grated
• 3 whole anchovy fillets, finely chopped (optional)
• Or replace anchovies with an additional tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• ½ cup light olive oil (not extra virgin)
• 1 heaped teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
• ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
• Juice of 1 large lemon
For the salad
• 4 small gem lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
• 6 large eggs, soft boiled for 6 minutes
• 150g bacon, chopped and cooked
• 60g Parmesan shavings
• 100g croutons
• Micro herbs to garnish
• Lemon wedges to serve
1. For the dressing: separate the eggs and place the coddled yolks in a bowl, mix well with the anchovies and the garlic. Slowly whisk in the oil and when thick, stir in the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice.
2. To assemble the salad, arrange the leaves in a Christmas wreath pattern on a large, flat platter, leaving a round gap in the centre (place a round bowl in the centre to ensure an even pattern).
3. Arrange the soft-boiled eggs on the leaves, sprinkle with the croutons and bacon. Pour the dressing over the salad evenly and top liberally with freshly grated Parmesan. Garnish with micro herbs, remove the bowl in the centre, if used, and serve with lemon