Eggs fried

Eggs make the easy winter meal, over fried (leftover) rice, frisee, or whatever random vegetables you’ve got available.

Eggs, like pancakes, are one of those food items that calls out “breakfast” to most of us. But if we serve them after sundown, they represent a sort of lazy, delicious decadence: breakfast for dinner? How silly. How fun. Actually, though, the old switcheroo can produce a fabulous go-to winter meal: quick, healthful and filling.

There are a zillion versions of the “what’s in the fridge” dinner, but this one is inspired by the classic French Salade Lyonnaise. It’s a hearty mess of a meal: a bed of frisee with poached egg placed on top, usually tossed with bacon and perhaps some croutons. As you eat it, it all blends together into a glorious crunchy silky mess of contrasting flavors, colors and textures.

Another good version of the egg-based, easy meal comes from New York Times writer Mark Bittman. He throws in a dash of Asian inspiration. When Bittman was penning his Minimalist column a couple years ago, he shared with us his friend (and big deal chef) Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “simple, mildly unusual, but utterly fantastic fried rice with ginger, leeks and a fried egg.” It takes a bit of special care to prepare just as the celebrity chef does, but the results are deeeelish.

Sally Schneider’ The Improvisational Cook offers a veritable primer of the fried-egg-plus-something meal. She describes the “basic formula” as “a bed of something filling and somewhat mildly flavored” plus a “pungent grated cheese…then topped with a soft-yolk fried egg, which will make a sauce when the egg is broken.”

The bottom line is to take whatever fresh (or leftover) vegetable you happen to have, add a hearty, filling starch – pasta, rice, or another, sturdier grain like bulgur or quinoa – and/or a crispy green, and revel in the contrasts as it all mixes in your bowl. Leeks, onions, scallions, garlic, ginger, hot peppers, pecorino, parmesan – any or all are welcome to the party.

And for the ginger: get in the habit of always having a stalk of ginger in the freezer. Frozen, it’ll keep a long time; just take it straight from the freezer to grate off however much you need when you want to use some.