Writers need food… much as we’d like to think we survive on chocolate, coffee and ideas. The thing about food is that it shouldn’t just be anything being thrown into the body. This is why “brain food” is so important.
Okay, not just for writers but readers, students or anyone relying on the ability to think clearly and quickly. I have a treat for you that doesn’t involve the word “granola” or “diet”.
I call this dish “Eggs in Hell”, but I honestly can’t claim creatorship for this one because a rather famous chef already made something like this. However, I have taken some liberties and made Gordon Ramsay’s favorite into my own.
THE FIRST THING YOU NEED TO DO IS DECONSTRUCT THIS DISH.
It’s a tomato based pasta sauce, so the first obvious thing to deconstruct and really think about is that. However, you can get real quick and simple here–marinara (the tomato sauce of choice here) is already full of nutrients and the goods that fuel the brain. You’ve got the tomatoes, some of the herbs and the spices… and what more do you really need to throw in there to make it better than it already is? Look for a tomato based pasta sauce or marinara that is low in sodium (salt). You don’t need it and there’s already too much out there with salt thrown into it. Let’s not overcomplicate the sauce–if you find that the sauce could use a pinch of salt, then you can add it later but if you find a sauce that’s already salt-laden you can’t take it out of it. It’s better to just avoid it. If you want to, you can even make this from scratch, but writers tend to prefer something they can throw together quickly to get right back into writing again so picking something out of your local grocery store is just fine.
The second thing you’ll want to note is the herbs and spices that you like, but take a wander through the fresh herb aisle and consider grabbing a few leaves of oregano, basil and marjoram. (Dried is okay, if that’s all you’ve got).
The next crucial pieces are zucchini–one small to mid-size one, ends discarded, and cut into coins or thick chunks–and fresh mushrooms. Given the origin of this, one good size Portobello cut into thick chunks, will do.
The final part to all this is the sausage… around 4-5 mild Italian (not honey garlic or other styles) sausages that you would normally find at a BBQ and between a sausage bun type sausage. Not hotdogs, ground beef, or other meat. Boil until cooked through, drain and allow to cool enough to handle. Like the zucchini, you’re going to cut them into coins.
Cook the zucchini and mushrooms with a little bit of olive oil until just cooked. You want them firm, but not raw. Add the sausage and cook all of it together until the zucchini and the mushrooms take on some of the flavor of the sausage. (As a side note, you could quit right here, make some pasta and throw a bit of butter & parmesan cheese on top of all of this and call it a night!).
Add your tomato sauce, and simmer until everything is just about ready to eat. (Again, you could quit right here, add the pasta and be done, or even take it off of the stove and freeze for later).
Add your chosen herbs to taste, either chopped up or even whole. Mix this up a bit.
But here’s where it becomes Eggs in Hell and not just pasta and sauce…
Take one egg for each person you’re feeding. Poach those eggs in your sauce, with a lid over top, until the eggs are done to your liking.
Serve as is, without pasta (this is quite filling!), or with some crusty garlic bread. You can add pasta, but it’s actually overkill at this point.
WHAT MAKES THIS BRAIN FOOD?
First, there’s the protein from the sausage and the egg. Protein is vital for cognitive ability, as well as physical pursuits (this dish is also great for date night…). The eggs are full of Omega-3. Tomatoes are antioxidants and a bright vegetable, so they are full of nutrients. Every single ingredient, right down to the herbs, are all in here for the express purpose of making your brain run like a finely tuned machine.
WHY WOULD A WRITER WANT TO MAKE THIS?
It’s super easy, but it looks like a super complicated–and sophisticated–dish that you can make ahead and impress friends and family with… Just don’t add the eggs ahead of time. You can serve it instead of regular pasta meat sauce. It feels rustic, but chic, and keeping it simple actually adds to its charm.
But don’t take my word for it. Go discover this for yourself.
I just don’t take responsibility for the epic you end up writing after eating it!