Tomato & Grana Padano Cheesy Eggs with Rocket & Pea Shoots
We invited Alex Mackay - cook, teacher, cookery writer - to share his everyday recipes for brunch, lunch and dinner with hero ingredient, Grana Padano.
I first came across a version of this combination at a restaurant near a beach in New Zealand. At the time I was obsessed by what I thought was interesting and exciting about food - rare ingredients-funky and often misplaced partnerships; so serving an egg with cheese at a restaurant seemed far too ordinary. I’d eaten eggs before I started being a chef, how could they be a Cheffy ingredient. Only later when I’d eaten and cooked much more did I understand the magic to be found in everyday ingredients and then I learnt how to make everyday ingredients magical. The tomato and pepper sauce is a beauty, to which at different times I add lentils, bacon, sausages, chorizo or hot-smoked salmon. If you do not have a very good non-stick pan, do not attempt to fry the Cheese, it will stick. Sprinkle the Grana Padano over the top once everything is on the plate instead, it’ll still be delicious.
Serves 2; Preparation time: 20 minutes; Cooking time: 20-25 minutes; Difficulty: Simple
1. Start with the sauce. Get a medium sized shallow pan that you have a lid for. Add 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, the water, sliced onion, pepper, and garlic. Cover the pan. Sweat over a medium heat, stirring occasionally so that it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan, for 10-12 minutes until the onions and peppers are soft. Add more water if you need to.
2. Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil, then turn the heat to medium. Simmer for 2 minutes, add the sunblush tomatoes and the golden baby plum tomatoes. Simmer for 2 minutes. The mixture should now be saucy in texture. Season to taste with salt, sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and as much chilli powder as you like.
3. When the sauce is nearly ready, fry the eggs. Put a non-stick frying pan large enough to hold the eggs with a little space around the outside onto a medium heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil and warm it for 20 seconds. Sprinkle half the Grana Padano in an even layer on each side of the pan, being sure to leave a 3cm gap in the middle so that it is easier to get the eggs out once they are cooked. Sprinkle the basil leaves into the cheese. Fry over a medium heat for 1 minute or until the Grana Padano has melted.
4. Break an egg into each side of the Grana Padano in the frying pan. Turn the heat to low. Fry the eggs for one and a half to 2 minutes until the white is barely set and the yolk is still runny. The eggs cook into the Grana Padano which ends up chewy underneath and crisp around the outsides. Take the pan off the heat. Leave the eggs to sit for 1 minute. While the eggs fry, warm your sauce.
5. Spoon the sauce onto your plates. Use a large spatula to transfer the eggs and their cheesy crisps on top. Scatter the rocket and pea shoots around the outsides, I serve more leaves on the side as a delightful change from bread to mop up the sauce and yolks at the end. The two merge to make a dressing of sorts. Brunch is ready.