Poached Quail Eggs on Polenta
This is my healthy interpretation of "bacon and eggs". The high-fat nature of this dish made me consider alternatives for brunch fare. To make the dish, I pan-fried rounds of polenta, then stacked layers (and colors) of sautéed beech mushrooms, poached quail eggs, dill pesto and crispy vegetarian bacon.
If the idea of a high calorie meal doesn't bother you, you can replicate the same recipe with real bacon, chicken eggs and increase the amount of cheese in the pesto. And don’t worry, I’m not judging!
Yields: 4 servings2 (18-ounce) packages pre-cooked polenta, store-bought
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, stemmed
1½ cups fresh dill
1½ tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2½ cups beech mushrooms, separated
1½ teaspoons nutritional yeast
1½ tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
½ cup olive oil, as needed
¾ teaspoon sea salt (or regular table salt)
½ teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
3 slices vegetarian bacon (see tips)
12 quail eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar
For the pesto: In a mortar and pestle (or a blender), combine the herbs, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, Parmesan cheese and salt. Grind into a paste. Add 6 tablespoons olive oil and pepper. Mix until well distributed. Set aside.
For the poached eggs:
Fill a saucepan with water and add vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Break each egg into a small bowl and delicately pour one quail egg at a time into the water. Using chopsticks, create a little swirl over the egg white. Poach for 2-3 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon to drain the liquid onto paper towels. Let sit for 2-3 minutes.
For the polenta: Cut the polenta into ½-inch thick slices. Brush them with olive oil. Season with salt. Set aside.
In a large non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Pan-fry the polenta rounds until lightly golden on both sides. Transfer to serving plates. In the same pan, add the bacon slices and cook until lightly golden, and transfer to a platter. Add garlic to the pan, cook until slightly golden and add the beech mushrooms. Toss frequently and cook for about 3 minutes over high heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Cut the poached eggs in half, making sure the egg yolk is slightly runny and cut the bacon pieces into shreds.
Top each polenta round with sautéed beech mushrooms, cover with 3 poached quail eggs per person and drizzle with dill pesto. Add more beech mushrooms around the polenta round.
You can find rolls of premade polenta at Trader Joe's.
You can find nutritional yeast in any food health store such as Whole Foods. Besides, it's a good source of protein for vegetarians.
You can find beech mushrooms in most Asian markets. They look similar to enoki mushrooms but are larger and taste very similar to oyster mushrooms. You could replace them with button mushrooms.
Using sea salt helps when grinding the herbs into a coarse paste and gives a nice, briny taste to the pesto.
You can find quail eggs at Asian markets. 10 eggs cost about $1. You could substitute 1 chicken egg for 3 quail eggs. Poaching chicken eggs requires about 4-5 minutes until the egg yolk is nearly cooked but still runny.
Published By: on March 20, 2013.