This recipe came about on a weekend afternoon as I was puttering around in the garden weeding and thinning out crops that were too closely planted. Radishes were the main culprit. I don’t plant them in rows or in a dedicated space for that matter. Instead, I pop the seeds into gaps here, there, and everywhere. And then I forget where I planted them. Days later I plant some more. Or the squirrels dig them up and shift them too close to other plants. Or, like last year, I allow the crop to go rogue and now, in the spring, I find myself with loads of closely-packed plants.
But this is not a problem, because while the roots may be small, there are handfuls of lush greens that can be wilted, roasted, or fried. This is something I did not understand with my first unsuccessful attempts at growing radishes years ago. While the roots can be tricky if the soil is too dry or shallow, the prickly, hairy greens are very edible when cooked. In fact, they’re delicious!
So this is where I was on the weekend: a pile of thinned-out radishes in hand and lunchtime looming. I looked around the garden and considered what else I could add. The ‘Egyptian Walking’ onions were (and continue to be) abundant. The tarragon was growing bigger by the minute with lots of tender new growth at the tips. The chives were beginning to blossom and for the first time my little asparagus patch was old enough to offer up a few spears for eating. I got myself a stew going! (not really) But add a few eggs and I’ve got myself a well-rounded meal!
RECIPE: Soft Eggs on a Bed of Spring Vegetables from the Garden
Serves 2-4 people (depending on whether you eat this as a side or a full meal)
- 1 potato, thinly sliced
- 2 ‘Egyptian Walking’ onions or scallions
- 6 asparagus spears
- 4-6 small radishes, including their greens
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 1/4-3/4 cup water or stock
- 4 eggs
- 1 sprig fresh tarragon, chopped
- 2 chive blossoms, chopped
- 2-4 tablespoons plain yoghurt (optional)
- Sea salt to taste
Wash the vegetables and trim off any tough ends. Cut the onions and asparagus spears into 2-inch lengths and cut in half lengthwise if thick. Cut whole radishes into halves or quarters lengthwise, including the greens.
Cook the onions and potatoes together in a large cast iron skillet or fry pan along with the butter or oil until translucent. Add the asparagus, radishes, and half of the water (or stock) and simmer with the lid on. Add more water if needed.
When the greens are wilted and the potatoes are cooked through, remove the lid and push aside some of the veg to make four small spaces for the eggs. Crack one egg into each “nest,” sprinkle in the tarragon, replace the lid, and cook until the eggs are as soft or hard as you like them.
Serve with a dollop of yoghurt, chopped chives, and a pinch of sea salt to taste.