When it comes to stuffed eggs, I’ve always been a purist. Mash the yolk with a little mayonnaise, a hint of salt and pepper, and maybe, maybe, add a dusting of paprika or cayenne over top to lend a hint of color. Stuffed eggs have never seemed to require any further embellishment. Eaten as is, they are perfect. The creaminess of the yolk, the subtle richness of its flavor, set off by the firmer white, is a perfect combination. I’ve never really made stuffed eggs any other way. (A few variations were each tried once, and quickly abandoned.)
Not long ago, however, I was perusing a volume written by Simone and Ines Ortega, and within its sunny yellow cover I discovered a recipe that piqued my interest. A stuffed egg tapa, made with black olives, roasted peppers, and capers. Hmmmm. I almost turned the page, but something about the recipe stilled my hand. I love olives, of any kind, and roasted peppers as well. But surely those flavors would overpower the delicate egg. And yet… why not give it a try?
I didn’t have any capers, so decided to use a touch of anchovy instead. Into the pan the eggs went, on turned the burner, and about forty minutes later these stuffed eggs were sitting on a plate, waiting to be sampled. Paulo and I each bit into one, and were quite happily surprised. The olives and salty fish created a punch of flavor, the red pepper a little sweetness and meaty texture, but somehow none of these items overpowered the egg. The yolk was still creamy, its richness clearly evident, blending smoothly with the additions while still retaining its simple essence. Lovely, and yet so very different from my usual stuffed egg fare.
Traditional stuffed eggs are good for eating in the kitchen, or at a picnic, or for taking to the office on a food day. But these eggs, I hate to use the word sophisticated, because it sounds overused and pretentious, but these eggs would be perfect to serve with cocktails or at a brunch, or anywhere you wish to serve a savory finger food that is a touch above the ordinary. Or, of course, you can do as we did, eat one, then another, then another, while standing in the kitchen sipping champagne as New Orleans jazz plays in the background.
Eggs Stuffed with Olives and Peppers
12 briny black olives, drained, pitted, finely chopped
1/2 roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded, finely chopped
3 small anchovies, minced
Put the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn down heat until the water is simmering. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain, and fill the pan with very cold water. Allow the eggs to sit until cool enough to handle.
Peel the eggs and cut lengthwise in half. Scoop out the yolks and put them in a small bowl. Mash with the back of a fork. Add the olives, pepper, and anchovies, stirring until the ingredients are smoothly blended (adding a few drops of olive oil, if needed for the consistency). Season to taste with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Using either a spoon or a pasty bag fitted with a tip, fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture. Serve cold, or at room temperature.