eggs for 18season

Seasonal Pantry: An abundance of local eggs

April has been a great month for local pastured eggs. Earlier in the year, there seemed to be a shortage at farmers markets and there were days when if you didn't show up early you missed out. Now there is an abundance, from tiny blue-green eggs to jumbo eggs the color of cafe latte. I've noticed more signs on back roads, too. "Eggs!" they announce, pointing down a country lane.

Prices range on the low end from about $4 a dozen to $7.50 or $8 on the high end, about the same as prices have been for the last few years, even as the cost of chicken feed, especially organic chicken feed, has risen.

I frequently laugh when I see these signs because I am reminded of a comment I heard on a public radio show several months ago. One of the national "experts" on the urgency of eating local foods was being interviewed about eggs and I was astonished when I heard him say that it was an act of faith, more of a cerebral commitment than anything else, to commit to paying a higher price for local eggs from happy hens who are allowed to roam and lay on their own time, rather than on false factory time powered by 24-hour light and overfeeding.

"There's no difference in taste and no difference in nutrients," he said rather smugly, "and so you just have to be really committed to do this."

Either this guy doesn't have a very good palate, I thought at the time, or he simply has never tried true pastured eggs.

The difference in taste is profound. If you are a sensitive eater, if you actually pay attention to the flavors of the food you eat, it is almost impossible to be satisfied with factory eggs after tasting pastured eggs. If you tend to smother, say, scrambled eggs with a massive amount of ketchup or use an omelet simply as a folder for an enormous jumble of other foods, you may not notice a big difference. But if you like eggs for eggs, if you enjoy them poached, soft-cooked, hard-cooked, scrambled neat, fried or made into a classic French omelet with nothing but butter, salt and pepper, there's no missing the difference. A pastured egg is earthy, light, delicate and utterly delicious.

And now, in the middle of spring, is a wonderful time to enjoy them. They are perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner, especially with spring vegetables — asparagus, favas, artichokes, radishes, arugula and such — alongside.


On Easter Sunday, I did a cooking demonstration and tasting at the Sebastopol Farmers Market featuring two recipes from my latest book, "Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings" (Harvard Common Press, 2013). My plan had been to serve deviled eggs topped with chermoula, a tangy Moroccan condiment similar to Argentine chimichurri and Italian-style salsa verde. Alas, I used very fresh eggs from Pepper Ranch Poultry and they were nearly impossible to peel. I used a tried-and-true technique and it simply did not work, likely because the eggs were so very fresh, just a couple of days from the hens. The solution was simple; I served deviled egg salad instead of deviled eggs, which ended up being much better than what I had planned, as it formed a more cohesive dish.

Smashed Deviled Egg Salad with Chermoula and Spring Greens

Makes 4 to 6 servings

— Chermoula (recipe follows)

6 fresh local pastured eggs of equal size

1 small shallot, minced

— Kosher salt

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice

— Generous pinch of ground cardamom

— Black pepper in a mill

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons homemade or Best Foods mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, plus more to taste

2 or 3 generous handfuls salad greens, preferably from Earthworker Farm (see Note below)

— Kosher salt

— Sourdough hearth bread or other rustic bread of choice, hot

First, make the Chermoula.

To cook the eggs, put them in a saucepan, cover with water by at least 1 inch and set over medium-high heat. When the water boils, cover the pan and remove from the heat. Let rest from 7 to about 17 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs; the smallest ones need barely 7 minutes and the jumbos may need 17 or even 18 if they are cold when you begin.

Transfer the eggs to a cold water bath, lightly crack the shells on a hard surface and let sit in the cold water until cool.

While the eggs cook, make the dressing. Put the shallot into a small bowl, sprinkle with a little salt and add the vinegar, grapefruit juice, cardamom and several turns of black pepper. Set aside for a few minutes. Stir in the olive oil, taste and correct for salt and acid. Set aside.

Crack open each egg and use a spoon to scoop out it out of its shell; if the eggs are very fresh, some of the white will likely stick to the shell.

Put the cracked eggs into a bowl, smash them with a fork, add the mayonnaise and mustard and mix; this salad should be chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, put the salad greens into a bowl, add about half the dressing and toss. Save the remaining dressing to use another time.

Divide the greens among individual salad plates or soup plates and divide the egg salad among the servings. Top each portion of egg salad with a generous dollop of chermoula and serve immediately, with the hot bread alongside.

Note: I have become an enthusiastic fan of Earthworker Farm's spicy salad mix, which usually includes onion grass and cilantro. Sometimes I add a handful of small arugula to it, sometimes I don't. If you are not satisfied with the salad greens you currently use, give these a try; otherwise, use whatever you prefer.



Makes about 1 1/4 cups

3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled

— Kosher salt

1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

? cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons sweet paprika, preferably Spanish

1 teaspoon hot paprika, preferably Spanish

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chipotle powder or piment d'Esplette

— Juice of 1 to 2 lemons

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

Put the garlic in a suribachi or mortar, sprinkle lightly with salt and use a wooden pestle to crush the garlic into a paste. Add the cilantro and parsley and continue to grind with the wooden pestle until a uniform puree is formed. Add both paprikas, cumin and chipotle powder and stir in the lemon juice.

Season with salt and stir in the olive oil. Taste and correct for salt and acid as needed. Cover and chill; remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before using.

Chermoula will keep up to 2 day sin the refrigerator, but it is best the day it is made.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at

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