I took my wife Rebecca to Green Zebra for our first anniversary a few weeks ago. I'll tell you all about the experience at one of the best vegetarian-friendly restuarants in the country another time.
I will tell you we enjoyed several small dishes. One of my favorites was a lentil and spinach served with a poached duck's egg and toast. I've tried to create a version of that dish here. It's substantially different from the original in ways but I think it's credible in its own right. The final vegetarian but not Vegan result was filling, tasty and a little bit swank. I will be going back to the Green Zebra to try the original again, but I think I might keep this recipe in my repertoire as well.
It's low-cost, low fat (well sorta) and pretty low calorie for the nutritonal punch it packs.
Zebra-Inspired Lentil Egg Spinach and Toast
2 large chicken eggs
1 cup lentils de puy, picked over and rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock - low sodium
1 lb. chopped frozen spinach
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 thin slices Country-style French bread
1 clove garlic minced finely
Combine 3 cups of stock and 1 cup of lentils in a medium saucepan with the clove of minced garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for 15 minutes
Meanwhile, add one cup of stock to the pound of frozen spinach, breaking up the spinach beforehand if possible. Over medium heat, thaw the spinach and reduce the stock, stirring occasionally.
Softboil two eggs. The original used two poached eggs, but I haven't tried poaching much and when I have it hasn't been pretty. Softboiled is closer to the look of the original. You won't be able to tell easily, but the yolk should be runny while the white is solid. When done, rinse under cold water, tap the shells gently on the counter all around and peel, being careful not to pierce or tear the albumen (the white).
When lentils are soft but not mushy, add yogurt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir and simmer a minute or two more until liquid is reduced or absorbed almost completely. Stir frequently so you don't burn the lentils on the bottom.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the herbs de Provence to the spinach. Stir in. Salt and pepper to taste.
Toast the bread. If you wish, you may cut a small circle out of the bread about a third of the way up before toasting. The hole should be a little smaller than the egg.
With a slotted spoon, serve one big scoop of the lentils on one side of a small plate. Serve equal amount of spinach on the other side of the plate. Place the egg in the middle and lean the toast up against it. If you cut a hole in the bread before toasting, fit the bread onto the egg at an angle.
Serve and enjoy. Serves two as a main course. Add two more eggs and two more slices of toast to serve four as a tapas-style plate or mini-course.
When you cut into the egg with your fork the yolk should run down onto the lentils and spinach for a moment of yolk-y decadence.