The idea for this light lunch comes from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie Cooks Italy. A lot of people are a bit snobby about Jamie Oliver, but my view is that he has done a lot for school food, and he comes up with some original ideas.
The idea of frying eggs with tomatoes is not new – they’ve been doing it for centuries in Morocco in a dish known as chakchouka. And the idea of pairing mozzarella with tomatoes and basil is of course old as the hills… or perhaps I should say as old as the mountains of the Abruzzo. But the idea of throwing the lot into a frying pan with some eggs is novel. The mozzarella becomes stringy as you would expect, but it also puffs up and becomes a bit airy.
But I’ve made changes. In my view he overdoes the chilli, which I’ve replaced with the gentler, chocolatey Urfa pepper flakes. And, quite an inspiration, I’ve replaced his sourdough (usually my go-to bread) with some heavy rye bread, which I’ve cut into soldiers and used to make a crunchy, crispy bed for the soft eggs to melt into, and to provide texture as a counterpoint to the puffy cheese.
If you have any rye bread left over you might want to make The North Wind and the Sun Rye Bread Salad.
Or some soup and Nutty Rye Bread Croutons.
Recipe for Fried eggs and stringy, puffy mozzarella on higgledy piggledy soldiers
Serves 2 – don’t try to make for more, there won’t be room in the frying pan
• 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed with ½ tsp salt
• 3 medium-sized tomatoes
• A few leaves of basil
• 125g/4 oz mozzarella
• 4 eggs
• Pinch or two of Urfa pepper flakes, or half a tsp dried crushed chillies
• 3 slices of heavy rye bread
• olive oil for frying and drizzling
1. Take the eggs out of the fridge and have them ready to hand; warm your plates.
2. Core the tomatoes and chop roughly. Add to a large frying pan with a little oil and begin to fry.
3. Add the crushed garlic and the pepper flakes, and mix well. Fry gently.
4. Toast the bread. Cut into thinnish soldiers, drizzle with olive oil and put with the plates to keep warm.
5. Tear in most of the basil leaves. Tear in the mozzarella. Make four ‘wells’ for the eggs and break the eggs into the space you’ve made for them. Sprinkle over a few extra pepper flakes.
6. Take the plates out and divide the soldiers between them.
7. When the eggs are cooked through, carefully place them atop the bed of soldiers. Add the rest of the contents of the pan, tear over the remaining basil leaves, and serve!