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If you thought vegetarian food was boring, I strongly encourage you to try these Calabrian chili fried eggs. The spicy fried eggs with creamy eggplant sauce, balsamic Swiss chard, and crunchy nut topping are a flavor explosion in every bite.The California Wine Club's Premier Series, the most popular of all the clubs.
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What makes this dish special
When I don't know what to make for lunch, I always reach for a couple of eggs. Fried eggs with roasted vegetables or avocado toast with fried eggs are always solid options. However, even I get bored of the same meal so, today I'm taking those basic fried eggs and jazzing them up. Add a sauce, some spice, vegetables, and garnishes and you end up with one fancy vegetarian lunch. Try these Calabrian chili fried eggs with roasted eggplant sauce, crunchy nut topping, and balsamic Swiss chard, and you won't be turning back to boring fried eggs. I know I won't!
- Eggplant: The purple-skinned vegetable has an earthy flavor but becomes slightly sweet and nutty when roasted. The spongey texture also becomes creamy once roasted.
- Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is thicker than plain yogurt making it ideal as a base for sauces. You can also labneh or strained regular yogurt instead.
- Tahini: A paste made from ground sesame seeds, often used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines that adds a nutty flavor to the eggplant sauce.
- Nuts: Use a combination of almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds for the nut topping. You can substitute them with other nuts and seeds including sunflower seeds, crushed walnuts, or pine nuts.
- Sumac: The fragrant spice brightens up the nut topping adding a tangy flavor. If you can’t find sumac, add lemon zest instead.
- Swiss chard: The dark leafy green vegetable has a mild bitterness. You can also use spinach or kale instead.
- Balsamic vinegar: The dark, sweet, and tangy vinegar mellows out the bitterness from the Swiss chard.
- Calabrian chilies: Small, spicy chili peppers from the Calabria region of Italy, often sold in oil. Use the oil in the jar to fry the eggs and the peppers themselves for the topping. If you can’t find Calabrian chilies, use chili oil for the eggs and red chili flakes.
- Capers: The small pickled flower buds add a briny flavor to the eggs. If you don’t like capers use chopped green olives instead.
How to make Calabrian chile fried eggs
Step 1: Make eggplant sauce
If you like a bit of kick in your food, you're going to enjoy these Calabrian chili fried eggs. Calabrian chilies are medium-hot chili, somewhere between a jalapeno and habanero. Not only are they the perfect heat, but they're also slightly smoky, adding another element to the dish.
To offset the spicy eggs, we're making a roasted eggplant sauce. Cut a large eggplant in half and use a sharp knife to score the flesh. Drizzle olive oil and season the eggplant with salt and pepper. Then, wrap the eggplant and roast it in the oven at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft.
Scoop out the flesh; you need about 1 cup. Take that roasted eggplant and puree it in a Vitamix with garlic, Greek yogurt, olive oil, tahini, lemon, salt, and pepper. The roasted eggplant sauce is almost like a babaghanoush but creamier and tangier. Set it aside while you prepare the remaining elements.
Step 2: Prepare toppings
Now that we have something creamy, we need something crunchy. Here enters a crunchy nut topping consisting of toasted sliced almonds, pepitas, and sesame seeds. Season the nuts with a pinch of salt and sumac, and let them cool completely. You can make the nut topping several days in advance.
For the vegetable component, saute Swiss chard and red onion with a touch of balsamic vinegar. You can swap out the Swiss chard for kale, spinach, or any other leafy green.
Saute the red onion until softened, then add the Swiss chard. Once the greens are softened, add the garlic and season with balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Saute for another minute, then remove from heat and keep warm.
Step 3: Fry eggs and assemble plates
Now that everything else is ready, it's time to fry the eggs. Heat a couple of tablespoons of Calabrian chili oil and fry the eggs on a nonstick saute pan until your desired degree of doneness. If the chili oil is too spicy, use half chili oil and half olive oil.
Spread a generous amount of the roasted eggplant sauce onto plates and top it with balsamic Swiss chard, Calabrian chili fried eggs, nut topping, sliced chilies, capers, and fresh parsley.
Serve the eggs with crusty bread for a complete meal. My husband said this meal was excellent and I'm going to have to agree with him. Yes, there are many components but the end result is a flavor and texture explosion. I promise you'll love it!
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can adjust the spice level by varying the amount of Calabrian chilies used. If you prefer milder heat, use fewer chilies or remove the seeds.
Yes, if you have pre-roasted or grilled eggplant on hand, you can use it to save time.
Yes, several components can be prepared in advance. The roasted eggplant sauce, nut topping, and balsamic swiss chard can be made ahead, refrigerated, and reheated before assembling the dish.
More vegetarian Mediterranean recipes
Looking for more vegetarian Mediterranean dishes? Try these:
Calabrian Chili Fried Eggs
Roasted eggplant sauce
- 1 large eggplant
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt plain
- ¼ cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup sliced almonds raw
- ¼ cup pepitas raw
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds raw
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Balsamic swiss chard
- 2 tablespoons oil
- ½ medium red onion thinly sliced
- 1 bunch swiss chard chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons Calabrian chili oil
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2-3 Calabrian chilies chopped
- crusty bread for serving
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Use a sharp knife and score the flesh in a crisscross pattern. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil and season eggplant with salt and pepper. Wrap eggplant in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until softened.
- Scoop out enough of the eggplant flesh to fill 1 cup. Transfer to a blender and add yogurt, remaining ¼ cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and tahini. Blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Make nut topping. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add sliced almonds, pepitas, and sesame seeds. Toast until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and season with sumac and salt. Spread nuts on parchment paper and let cool completely.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sliced onion and saute until softened, about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add swiss chard and saute until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and balsamic vinegar and saute for another minute. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat, and keep warm.
- Wipe pan clean and heat 2 tablespoons Calabrian chile oil over medium heat. Cook eggs until desired degree of doneness and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread roasted eggplant sauce on two plates. Top with balsamic swiss chard, Calabrian chile eggs, nut topping, parsley, capers, and chopped Calabrian chilies. Serve immediately with crusty bread.