Steamed Tomatoes and Eggs with Garlic, Asiago, Butter

Savory Recipes, Summer • 29 Aug 2013

We just returned from our annual late-summer trip to Cape Cod. Dusk’s blushing fuchsia cheeks gave way to astringent midnight temperatures, a keen reminder of the impending seasonal metamorphoses. The bitter wind’s rippled waves swarmed outside the beach cottage, knocking its tender skull against the decorative gong fixed to the entryway. The persistent reverberation reminded me of cicadas continuously chirping their frenetic summer love songs. The sun will rise, I thought, and the cicadas will noisily rouse with the morning dew. It is still summer, I mouthed to myself, if only for a few more weeks.

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The change in climate harbingers personal transition as well. My son will commence his first days of preschool. Our kitchen’s inexorable fall makeover- watery cucumbers, soft-skinned zucchini and sugary corn, supplanted by bone-hard squash, floral crisp apples and leafy chard- cultivates surprising disconsolation. In particular I mourn the exodus of soft-fleshed, taut skinned, sweetly acidic vine-ripened tomatoes. Delicious in their Spartan qualities- succulent and slightly slick- they are the rarely-sighted Loch Ness of fruit- having been replaced by the omnipresent genetically engineered supermarket tomatoes with their flat taste, pulpy flesh and countless frailties.

Eggs 1

Before tomatoes abscond, I recreate a beloved tomato-centric dish with farmer’s market fresh tomatoes cultivated from my food coop. I learned to make eggs steamed with sharp, salty cheese, fatty, luxuriant butter and a surfeit of spicy garlic from my mother-in-law, who also grows her own tomatoes. She gleaned the recipe from her husband, whose grew up eating this straightforward but exceedingly flavorful dish. It bursts with tart, sweet, astringent juiciness, just like the blushing tomatoes themselves.

Tomatoes and Eggs 2Tomatoes and Eggs 3

I bought a lot of tomatoes since they were in perfect late-summer form. We wanted to roast the smooth plums, steam the sturdy Romas and devour the marbled, craggy heirlooms in the raw, sliced and decorated with a slick splash of extra virgin and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

For the eggs, steam the Roma slices in a pan until soft and supple. Once the tomatoes are soft and squishy but still intact, remove the skins. Continue to steam with garlic and a heaping helping of butter until the garlic is tender. Steam the cheese, followed by the eggs. You want whites that are fully cooked and yolks that are slick and glossy on the exterior and golden molten liquid on the inside. Make sure to tear apart a fresh baguette to mop up the juices. And there are plenty of juices.

Within the year we will depart Brooklyn for a more sprawling life. I dream of a garden where my growing son can help me tend home-grown vegetables, learning to care for a life force that will feed and nourish our family. Picking home-grown summer tomatoes off the vine is a rite of passage. The grassy smell permeates the air, the fruit weighing down their hosts; warm, sun-kissed orbs, ambling on the vine, buying time until plucked from their mother.

Steamed Tomatoes and Eggs with Garlic, Asiago, Butter

5 medium or 4 large farm-fresh Roma tomatoes
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons butter, sliced
2.5 ounces sharp cheese, such as Asiago
4 eggs

1. Slice each tomato into thick rounds. Place the tomatoes in a 10-in a cast iron pan, overlapping slightly.

2. Simmer tomatoes over medium heat, covered, until soft. Remove from heat and discard tomato skins and excessive liquid.

3. Return pan to stove and add garlic and butter and return to a simmer, uncovered. Cook for about 5 minutes, making sure garlic remains below simmering liquid. Once garlic is soft, place the slices of cheese over the tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook until cheese melts.

4. Carefully break eggs individually on top of cheese, keeping yolks intact. Cover pan and simmer gently over medium to medium-low heat until egg whites are just set but yolks remain runny. Adjust heat as necessary and keep a steady eye as it cooks.

5. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Yield: Serves 2-4.

5 Responses

  1. What a wonderful way to start a day. I love your photo too.

  2. This looks beautiful! I know what I’m having for brunch tomorrow 🙂

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