What’s not to love about an egg? One of these little orbs has no sugar or carbs and is one of nature’s best sources of complete, digestible protein. Eggs are a versatile refrigerator staple with a long shelf life. The golden yolks offer high levels of nutrients like choline and lutein, and egg consumption in general is now believed to raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. Eggs even come in their own handy package—and they taste great!
With their abundant supply of wholesome vitamins and minerals, eggs have been aptly referred to as “nature’s multivitamin.”
Of course, the age-old question is, “Which came first—the chicken or the egg?” Since that question may never be definitively answered, I thought it would be fun to spice up the table talk with some random bits of trivia.
- According to the Guinness Book of Records, the record for throwing a fresh egg without breaking it is 317 feet, 10 inches.
- Eggs are placed in cartons with the small end down in order to keep the air cell in place and the yolk centered.
- It takes 24 to 26 hours for a hen to produce an egg.
- Most fertilized chicken eggs take exactly 21 days to hatch.
- While waiting for them to hatch, a mother hen turns her eggs approximately 50 times per day.
- Hens with white ear lobes typically lay white eggs.
- Hens with red ear lobes typically lay brown eggs.
- The nutritional value of white and brown eggs is the same.
- As hens grow older, they produce larger eggs.
- Approximately two-thirds of the chicken eggs produced in the U.S. each year are sold in the shell. The other one-third is cracked for use in liquid, frozen, dried, and specialty egg products.
- A hard-boiled egg will peel more easily if it is at least a week old before it is cooked.
- The record weight for a single chicken egg is one full pound, and the egg had a double yolk and double shell.
- A typical hen lays an average of 266 eggs per year. The record for most eggs laid in one year is 371.
The following egg-centric meal is one that I make as often for dinner as I do for breakfast. A small amount of ham provides a salty smokiness, the thin slices of baked tomato offer a subtle sweetness, and you hardly realize you’re getting a hefty serving of greens. It’s easy to prepare with run-of-the-mill ingredients and can be baked in advance and left on the counter for up to two hours. Or it can be refrigerated and reheated for a speedy meal when needed.
Casual enough for everyday yet tasty enough for company, the addition of a side salad and a crusty roll or slice of quick bread completes the meal. Fresh fruit is a fitting side when serving for breakfast or brunch. Though I call it a crustless quiche, the ratio of milk to eggs is low, so the texture is less custardy and more akin to a frittata.
Yields 6-8 servings.
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cup (5 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided use (Italian blend and Swiss are good options, too)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (I use 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few good grinds of the pepper mill)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 4 ounces of your favorite deli ham, chipped and roughly chopped (may substitute 1 cup thinly sliced or diced leftover baked ham)
- 8 ounces frozen chopped spinach*, thawed with moisture squeezed out
- 1 small tomato, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, 3/4 cup of the cheese, and the salt and pepper. Mix well, and then set aside. (May combine up to a day in advance, cover, and refrigerate. Stir well before proceeding.)
- Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and turning golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped ham and continue to sauté for another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the drained, chopped spinach, being sure to break up any chunks, and evenly distribute the ingredients over the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the egg mixture over top. I like to use a dinner fork to work the egg mixture into the ham mixture. Arrange the tomato slices on top, and then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just cooked through the center. If the center is still a little jiggly, bake for a few additional minutes and check again. The secret to perfect texture is to not overcook the eggs.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve. The quiche may also be served at room temperature. Stored in the refrigerator, leftovers will keep for up to a week and may be gently reheated in the microwave.
- Frozen chopped spinach is typically sold in 16-ounce or 10-ounce packages. It’s easy to use half of the larger package. However, if the smaller 10-ounce package is what you have on hand, you may absolutely use it all. I have also made this meal with a mix of frozen spinach and broccoli.
Sources: Incredibleegg.org, the NC State Cooperative Extension, foodreference.com