We have been enjoying some really nice weather here in San Francisco. The kind of weather that makes you smile like an idiot on your walk to work, ecstatic to be jacket-free for once. The kind of weather that makes you stop for ice cream before you've had lunch and the kind of weather that makes you want to have a drink before noon hits.
So Mady came over on Sunday morning and we had baked eggs and Bloody Mary's. And boy did that hit the spot. The eggs were a celebration of spring in a cast iron skillet - spring onions, spring garlic, purple asparagus, and heaps of arugula studded with purple arugula flowers. And with Mady servin' up freshly made Bloody Mary's, how could Sunday get any better?
Yup, that's a cactus pad in the picture above. Yup, we ate it. I had heard of nopales before but I don't think I'd ever tried it. We came across a dude at the farmers' market who was selling cactus pads and we were intrigued. He gave us each a piece and we popped them in our mouths and immediately looked at each other wide-eyed. Actually, this happens every single time Mady and I taste something at the market - it's always an epic moment, a game-changer, a life-altering experience. Seriously. We go to the same Middle Eastern guy every week for pita bread and each time we "taste-test" their roasted garlic. I'm telling you, every time is like the first time and that garlic melts in your mouth.
BUT, I digress. Back to the cactus. It was delicious - crisp but still super juicy, and a little bit tart. Nopales are the cactus pads that come from the prickly pear cactus. And apparently they are in peak season during the spring. All I did was throw some of the chopped cactus in a food processor with onion, garlic, and sea salt, and we had a delicious salsa de nopales to eat with our baked eggs. Yum.
BAKED EGGS WITH SPRING GREENS AND SALSA DE NOPALES
For the eggs:
- 1 lb. arugula or other seasonal greens (arugula flowers are optional of course but look beautiful sprinkled over the eggs!)
- 1 spring onion, chopped
- 1 lb. asparagus (purple asparagus is delicious if you can find it), cut into bit-sized pieces
- 1-2 cloves spring garlic, minced
- 6 eggs
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- avocado slices and a good loaf of bread for serving
For the salsa:
- 1 cup nopales (about ½ of a cactus pad)
- ½ cup onion (about ¼ of an onion)
- 1 garlic cove
- sea salt to taste
For the salsa, roughly chop the cactus, onion, and garlic clove and place in a food processor. Add salt and whiz everything together until smooth. Taste for seasonings and add more salt if needed.
For the eggs, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a cast iron pan, drizzle enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and place the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes more. Add the asparagus and arugula and sauté until the arugula wilts, about 5 minutes. Make 6 wells in the arugula for the eggs. Gently break an egg into each hole, being careful not to break the yolk. Place in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, just until the egg whites are set.
When done, remove from the oven and sprinkle a bit more salt and pepper over each egg. Divide the greens and eggs among three plates, and sprinkle with arugula flowers if using. Serve with nopales salsa, avocado slices, and (guess what else?) good bread.