True story: After living in Bosnia for a few months, I once complained to friends how unappetizing I found the eggs there. “They smell like hay, and what’s up with that dark orange yolk?” I said. One friend, who had grown up on a farm in the U.S., started laughing. And then she laughed some more. And when she was able to breathe again, she gave me a little pat on the arm and said, “Laura. They have that smell because the hens are grass-fed. That’s a good thing. And the orange yolk means they’re fresh.”
Ah-ha! Well, I certainly felt dumb. I guess I had grown used to sanitized and odorless industrial eggs with pale yellow yolks. Sure enough, after a couple years in Bosnia, I came to love those farm-fresh eggs, as well as all the other abundant fresh produce there. My lesson: Sometimes it’s good to question your instincts.
Another true story: When we arrived in Germany, I insisted on buying the most expensive fresh & organic eggs, though they didn’t live up to my expectations for an orange yolk and pasture aroma. One time, my husband came back from a trip to the grocery store with the cheap, non-organic kind in bland packaging, and I was disappointed at his choice. But when I later cracked open one of those “cheap” eggs, there was that deep orange yolk and fresh smell! My husband and I even did side-by-side comparisons of both types of eggs, and the non-organic one was better every time. So we switched to the cheap eggs and were much happier.
A few months later, a little scandal broke here in Germany — turns out farms were fraudulently selling eggs produced by hens kept in overcrowded conditions under the organic label. My lesson: Sometimes it’s good to trust your instincts (and your husband’s)! Incidentally, the organic label does not necessarily mean the hens have access to pasture & sunlight or feed naturally on grass & bugs (though I think they are required to be cage-free and raised free of vaccines, antibiotics & pesticides). I look for both organic and pasture-raised eggs when I can, but for me the pasture environment (and that fresh orange yolk) is most important.
Fact: Egg yolks are one of the richest food sources of the B-complex vitamin choline, which contributes to better neurological function and reduced inflammation. There’s some evidence that dietary choline helps with fetal brain development when pregnant women eat it (hmmm… this might explain my intense egg cravings when I was pregnant. Or perhaps this:). A side benefit of a diet rich in choline is an improved ability to produce those “happiness” hormones such as seratonin and dopamine [Source: HuffPost Healthy Living]. The Mayo Clinic, however, recommends consuming no more than four eggs per week.
So here’s a two-egg omelette for that occasional indulgence to keep you smart & happy! Though my omelette-folding needs some work (I am missing my omelette-folding pro partner), I enjoyed the spring flavors. I added a mix of herbs (parsley, chives, chervil), lightly steamed asparagus tips, and some shredded emmentaler. And it wouldn’t be a Seasoned Traveler dish without a dollop of something, now would it? My favorite way to eat omelettes is with a side of Greek yogurt, so here’s a healthy dollop and an extra sprinkle of chives to go with it – try it!
Spring Herb, Asparagus & Emmentaler Omelette
- 5 or 6 thin asparagus spears, trimmed with vegetable peeler and woody ends cut off
- 2 eggs, preferably from pasture-raised hens (and organic)
- splash of room temperature water
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup shredded emmentaler cheese
- 1 Tbs. or so of finely chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley, chervil)
- for garnishing: dollop of Greek yogurt, extra chives, sliced fresh cherry tomatoes (and any leftover asparagus spears)
- Set up a steamer basket in a pot of shallow water that reaches just under the basket and bring to a boil. Cut the trimmed asparagus spears into two and place in the steamer basket and cover the pot; steam until tender but still vibrant green, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat; use the tips for the omelette and reserve the lower part for nibbling as you cook or for garnishing the omelette.
- Meanwhile, have the fillings (cheese and herbs) ready and placed next to the stove.
- Using a whisk or fork, beat the eggs with the splash of water and pinch of sea salt. Heat a 10-inch skillet over low heat and add the pat of butter and let it melt and bubble. When bubbling subsides, but before the butter browns, beat the egg mixture again and add to the pan. Using a heat-proof mixing spatula (not the flipping kind), stir the egg around the pan as you also tilt the pan around in circles to let it spread evenly. Use the tip of the spatula to push down any rough edges to make a smooth circle. When the edges begin to set, push one side with the spatula into the center, creating space for some uncooked egg to fill. Swirl the pan or use the spatula to coax the liquid egg in there. Repeat 2 or 3 times, starting at different points on the edges.
- When omelette is set and almost cooked through (it will continue to cook a little), sprinkle the fillings over the top; place the asparagus tips on one side, with tips facing out. Slide a flipping spatula under the side opposite the asparagus and gently flip over the top to form a semi-circle. Let cook and set another minute, then transfer to a plate.
- Garnish with Greek yogurt, extra chives, sliced cherry tomatoes and/or any leftover asparagus spears.