Eggs are a serious subject in our household. With a fiercely competitive egg toss at our annual family barbecue for year-long bragging rights, and having married into a family that made a small fortune on a few chicken houses dedicated to egg production, eggs make their way into more than a couple rounds of conversation.
Serious conversations around eggs are quite extensive, actually; much of it around the myriad of claims, labels, and terms besieging the industry. An article in The New York Times breaks down carton claims to help consumers determine how hens are raised, what they are fed, and extra benefits the eggs might provide. This article from the Humane Society is also educational. Terms that explain how hens are raised may prove to be the most valuable when it comes to choosing eggs, if not the most controversial.
Take a recent study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry that found free-range eggs to have increased amount of pollutants than eggs from confined chickens. Not only did the definition of “free-range” come into question, but many wondered the overall relevance of a study that took place in Taiwan, an industrialized, highly populated island where environmental contaminants may be more prevalent — although this is an increasing concern in the U.S.
And then there’s the evidence that eggs from pasture-raised poultry contain less fat, more vitamin A and significantly more omega-3 fatty acids. “Pasture-raised” is a term not regulated by the USDA, but one that is gaining momentum to help distinguish these food products as more animal-friendly. Yet the significant price differential begs the question – is it worth it? (Check out Cheeseslave and The Kitchn blogs for some convincing commentary.)
Confusing terminology aside, the thin shells of eggs contain a concentrated source of nutrients. Eggs are a rich source of choline, a nutrient that is critical to brain function. Besides being loaded with folate, riboflavin, and B12, at about 75 calories a piece, it’s hard to debate that eggs are a nutrient-dense food that harbor a lot of nutrition for a relatively small price — no matter how much you spend on your eggs. And while those watching their cholesterol may be limiting their egg intake, current research shows that saturated fat may be the bigger culprit in elevating blood cholesterol levels. Eggs can be a part of anyone’s healthful diet — this is where that elusive phrase, “everything in moderation,” certainly has its place.
But my inspiration for making this quiche was not to wax poetic about egg production or it’s nutritional profile. A friend I used to work with was stopping over to see the new house. In true hostess fashion, I planned a menu appropriate for an estimated arrival time between 11 and 2 pm — a quiche. Quiches are easy and versatile in both creation and consumption. Cook a few ingredients on the stove top, whisk in some eggs with a bit of cheese and milk and you’re on your way to a filling, wholesome dish. Once cooked, enjoy it hot or cold. Create your own masterpiece with whatever is in the fridge – quiches are a great way to make sure all of your fresh, seasonal produce doesn’t go to waste.
My eggs for this Sausage & Eggplant Quiche were produced locally at Alderfer Farms, who are recognized by Certified Humane, a national non-profit dedicated to enforcing “rigorous standards” for the treatment of animals. Among other things, cages are forbidden and the label ensures animals have ample space and shelter, “free to do what comes naturally” throughout their lifespan. I served this quiche warm from the oven with toasted olive bread and a helping of Tomato & Peach Salad. Not only was I left with a happy lunch guest, but a tasty option for breakfast, lunch or dinner in the days to follow.
If you’re interested in continuing the egg conversation, take a look at the Resources page on CC&T. The first link classifies and ranks health claims and grocery stores to help consumers make educated choices. As for me, I’m certain the next conversation will take place in just a few weeks at our family barbecue when the 2010 Egg Toss Champions are crowned. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.
Sausage & Eggplant Quiche
Adapted from Slashfood recipe
- 2 cooked sweet sausages, crumbled
- 1 cup chopped eggplant
- 2 small onions (I used 1 red Tropea and 1 small yellow)
- 3/4 cup of milk (I used 2%)
- 1/4 cup grated cheese (I used the aforementioned Weissa Kase)
- 5 eggs, beaten
- salt, pepper, dried or fresh herbs
- small amount of olive oil to sauté vegetables
- Sauté vegetables a bit of olive oil until eggplant becomes tender and lightly browned.
- Add cooked sausage, stir to mix, and remove from heat.
- Arrange the veggies in the bottom of a quiche pan (I used an 8×2 baking dish). There should be enough to cover the entire bottom.
- Mix eggs, milk, cheese and spices (as desired) together. Pour mixture over vegetables and spread the mix evenly with a fork.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until the center is firm and the top is golden brown.