Eggs Benedict, Mediterranean Style Recipe

This version begins with toasted Italian bread and is layered with roasted vegetables, a poached egg, and a mayonnaise-based sauce

Variations on the usual brunch suspects are always welcome, whether you’re hosting a get-together or looking for a little something different to try any weekend. In the following recipe by cookbook author Marie Simmons (who appeared in Real Food) the original brunch classic has been liberally tweaked. Customarily English muffin halves topped with Canadian bacon, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce, this Eggs Benedict version begins with a large slice of toasted Italian bread and is layered with roasted vegetables, a poached egg and a mayonnaise-based sauce made with roasted red peppers.

Eggs Benedict, Mediterranean Style

Serves 4

1 eggplant, cut into 12 evenly sized slices (each 14-inch thick)
3 small zucchini, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 4 (14-inch-thick) slices
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 12-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
34 c. light mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar or other aged red wine vinegar
12 tsp. coarse salt
14 tsp. smoked paprika
4 34-inch-thick slices Italian bread, approximately 3 x 5 inches
4 whole basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into thin julienne
4 large eggs, cold
1 tbsp. white or cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Arrange eggplant and zucchini slices on two large sheet pans. Lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast vegetables 15 minutes. Remove pans from oven and turn vegetable slices over. Return pans to oven, switching the positions for even browning. Roast until browned, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F.

Cut part of roasted red peppers into 12 14-inch-long strips; set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor or blender jar combine remaining roasted red peppers, mayonnaise, garlic, vinegar, salt and paprika. Process until thoroughly blended. Scrape into a small saucepan and keep warm over very low heat.

Toast bread and spread each slice with 1 rounded tablespoonful of warm sauce. Place toast on a baking sheet. (If using prosciutto, add it now.) Top each slice of toast with 3 overlapping slices of eggplant and zucchini. Sprinkle evenly with half of the basil. Top each sandwich with 3 strips of the reserved roasted red pepper. Cover loosely with foil and keep warm in the oven.

Fill a deep 10-inch skillet or sauteÌ pan with water; add a splash of vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Heat water to simmering on medium heat. Break eggs, one at a time, into a cup and slip into the water, adding eggs in a clockwise pattern. Poach until whites are set and yolk is cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove toasts from the oven and uncover. Transfer each to a serving plate.

Use a slotted spoon to remove eggs one at a time from the water as they are cooked. Rest back of spoon on a folded towel to absorb dripping water, then gently slip eggs onto sandwiches.

Spoon any remaining sauce evenly over eggs. Garnish with remaining basil. Serve at once.

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.