Featured March Produce: Farm Fresh Eggs

chicken eggs on wooden backgroundEggs have become quite hip in the culinary world. They are showing up in newspapers and magazines articles, and trendy chefs are featuring them on their menus, and not just for breakfast either. This just goes to show that America is realizing what the rest of the world has known for so long – eggs are great anytime.

Eggs are used to supplement noodle dishes in Asia for dinner, and omeletes are standard fare for light dinners or late night fare in Europe. An egg, whether boiled hard, soft or fried, can transform a salad from a starter to a meal, and are great with the sharper greens of winter. One of the best things about an egg is the speed with which it can be cooked. With good eggs and a few things out of the refrigerator, a good meal is only moments away.

Depending on how the chicken is raised – whether it has room to roam, good shelter, and what it is fed – affects the flavor of the egg. Eggs from free range chickens that are fed a quality diet have a deeper, richer flavor as compared to eggs that are from large, commercial operations. In addition to flavor differences, you’ll also notice that egg yolks from free range (pastured) chickens have a deeper, brighter yolk color and very clear whites, providing the eggs are quite fresh. Also, eggs from your local farmer are not likely raised with hormones or food with added antibiotics.

Cracking the Myth About Eggs
In years past, eggs were unfairly maligned with a “bad” reputation for promoting heart disease. Current research shows that dietary cholesterol is not the culprit for high blood cholesterol.Eggs contain choline, a nutrient that is critical to brain function, and are one of the richest food sources of choline. A recent report in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that we look at the egg as a whole package: “Eggs are inexpensive, contain the highest-quality protein on the planet, and are loaded with small amounts of vital nutrients, including folate, riboflavin, selenium, B12, and choline. At 75 calories apiece, eggs are also a nutrient-dense food that makes a smart and low-calorie contribution to any menu.”

Eggs contain choline, a nutrient that is critical to brain function, and are one of the richest food sources of choline. A recent report in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that we look at the egg as a whole package: “Eggs are inexpensive, contain the highest-quality protein on the planet, and are loaded with small amounts of vital nutrients, including folate, riboflavin, selenium, B12, and choline. At 75 calories apiece, eggs are also a nutrient-dense food that makes a smart and low-calorie contribution to any menu.” Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that may keep eyes healthy and ward off the leading cause of blindness, macular degeneration.

Eggs can transform a simple salad into a wonderful main course, and if you use a soft cooked egg it provides its own sauce and a rich foil to pleasantly sharp greens such as escarole or radicchio. Baste eggs by adding a little liquid to the pan and covering tightly. The resulting steam cooks the top of the eggs and there is no runny white. Basted eggs are great on leftover beans and grains for an easy dinner. Bake a vegetable gratin (or warm up some cooked leftover vegetables) and add some eggs a few minutes before it is ready to come out of the oven for a one-dish meal as well. These are all quickly made dishes, but there are many other great egg dishes like a frittata, strata, crespeu, tortilla Espana, and quiche.

Head out to the farmers market and grab yourself a dozen eggs and find out just how good a truly farm-fresh egg can be. You’ll find eggs at Mello-Dy Ranch, Old Creek Ranch, T & L Coke Farm, Fogline Farm, and Davis Poultry Ranch.

RECIPES: Shirred Eggs, Southwest Basted Eggs, Smoked Salmon and Dill Frittata, Quiche Lorraine, Asparagus, Spinach and Green Garlic Strata, Crab Quiche, Asparagus and Crab Hollandaise, Eggs Benedict, Orange Eggs Benedict with Scones, Frisee aux Lardons Corralitos

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