One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.

-Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, "Pavarotti, My Own Story"

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menemen: Turkish Style Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs are just as ubiquitious a breakfast food in Turkey as they are in the United States. We amp up the nutrition and the flavor in the dish by first softening some onion, green pepper and tomato in butter or oil. This vegetable combo forms the backbone of many Turkish dishes and adds a great savory depth to the eggs. Served with some crusty bread to sop it up, menemen is the perfect choice for a rainy Sunday brunch. If you're in search of comfort food, you can have your chicken soup for the soul - I'll take menemen!

The keys to the success of this dish are to use the thin-fleshed, mild green peppers called Cubanelles rather than bell peppers, and to cook the eggs over low heat so that they are only just set and still moist when served. 

I like my menemen to be liquid enough that I can sop it up with some bread, therefore I only cook the tomatoes until they are soft but not yet dry. Non-traditional but delicious add-ins include crumbled feta, a pinch of smoked Spanish paprika or hot pepper. The turmeric in the recipe is not very traditional either, but it gives the menemen a nice, bright yellow color (it won't affect the flavor.) Serves 4.

2 tbsp butter
6 eggs, beaten
1 small onion, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 Cubanelle pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, parsley or oregano (optional)
1 pinch turmeric (optional)

1. In a large, preferably cast iron, skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and pepper and cook until soft, 5-10 min. Add the garlic and thyme and cook one more minute.

2. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until soft but still juicy.

3. Season the eggs with salt, pepper and turmeric and add to the pan. Let cook for about ten seconds and then stir continuously to scramble. Take them off the heat soon after they have set.

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