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.
April 5, 2014 at 1:05 pm
Thanks for sharing your stories about eggs. And the recipe for the beautiful omelette.
April 8, 2014 at 11:45 am
My pleasure! I’m still trying to get up to speed on what all the egg labeling means (and doesn’t mean), but a beautiful fresh egg omelette is quite a treat sometimes.
April 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm
Great stories about the eggs, thats pretty amazing about the organic eggs. Your omelette is beautiful, I always try to buy the best eggs available but am so often disappointed in what I get when I crack them open. I love finding the yolks with a that glorious deep orange color but even though they are touted as grass fed, pastured I can tell those chickens were not happy because the yolks are lackluster, I wish I lived on a farm and had my own chickens.
April 8, 2014 at 11:41 am
I know what you mean – though I don’t think I’d make a good chicken farmer – ha! I’m actually a little afraid of them. But I guess the next best thing is getting the eggs from a trusted source where you know they take good care of the chickens.
April 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm
Ha, I don’t think I would either but if someone would take care of them for me I would happily eat the eggs. I just got a dozen at the farmers market, hope they are good.
April 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm
I love to see those asparagus peaking out of your omelette. I don’t eat eggs, but they are probably the one animal product I miss and have to be the most creative to replace!
April 8, 2014 at 11:43 am
You’ve piqued my interest, Laura, on creative options to replace eggs. What about polenta – maybe you could top some polenta with asparagus?
April 5, 2014 at 3:48 pm
Laura – wonderful examples on how you should go by taste rather than labelling. And thanks for the omelette making tutorial – very timely!
April 8, 2014 at 11:51 am
Thanks, Selma, so happy you stopped by, and thanks for the comment 🙂 Yeah, on the egg labeling, I was surprised to learn that not everything is as advertised. A little checking and comparing helps!
April 5, 2014 at 9:35 pm
I love asparagus and egg, so this would be a lovely lunch for me! I’d love to keep hen (actually I really want is quails) if I got a chance to live in countryside with big garden, then I get to eat fresh egg everyday! (oh, no more than 4 a week, I didn’t know…)
April 8, 2014 at 11:59 am
Hope you enjoy a nice fresh egg for lunch! That sounds lovely, Wee Birdie, to have quails in the countryside. The 4 eggs/week guideline is due to concern about cholesterol from the yolks; I suppose there’s always the option of an egg-white-only omelette too!
April 6, 2014 at 12:11 am
What an interesting story! I know my first reaction to farm fresh eggs was the same… I was afraid to feed them to my family!! Silly me… Afraid to feed farm fresh food to my family… Lessons learned!!
This is a lovely recipe… Asparagus goes so well with eggs… It’s light and fresh… And I know just as delicious as it is pretty..
Wonderful post.. Great story!
April 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm
Thank you so much – I really did feel silly about my reaction to those fresh eggs too. I’m with you, I think asparagus goes so well with eggs!
April 6, 2014 at 8:37 am
Ahh, your omelette is gorgeous, Laura! And that is so funny about the egg yolks. There is nothing like a bright orange yolk when it comes to eggs! I love them!
April 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm
Aw, thanks! I now appreciate those bright orange yolks too – there’s nothing like them!
April 6, 2014 at 7:51 pm
That omelette looks so amazing Laura! And loved your stories about eggs 🙂
April 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm
Glad you liked the egg stories – I guess I had a steep learning curve to understanding and appreciating fresh eggs 😉 Thanks for your comments!
April 7, 2014 at 10:03 pm
Gorgeous omelette! Once you have had that deep orange yolk, it’s hard to go back to the pale yellow ones.
April 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm
So true- those industrial ones can look so unnaturally pale, with an almost fluorescent glow to them. Makes you wonder!
April 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm
I read an article once that said that the yolks were so pale because of their unhealthy diet. Why would we want to eat anything that was fed such poor quality food?
April 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm
There really is a difference in eggs. We are lucky to receive fresh eggs from our friend who raises chickens. Your omelet looks beautifully folded with the asparagus sticking out so enticingly. 🙂
April 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm
Yes! Once I tried a local, farm fresh egg, I could never go back to store-bought.
April 9, 2014 at 4:33 pm
Exactly – fresh & local make all the difference!
April 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm
Thanks, Karen. How lucky to have a trusted source for your eggs!
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