Two years ago, with eggs from our neighbor’s hens, I made these onion-skin-colored Easter eggs, most of which I later pickled, because what I like most is pickled huevos haminados, which are simply delicious!
Sephardic Jews who live in Salonika, and all around the Mediterranean, prepare huevos haminados (baked eggs) as they were called in Ladino, the dialect of the Jews who were expelled from Spain. Prepared on Fridays to serve on the Sabbath, they were originally placed in a covered clay pot filled with onion skins and water and baked in a communal oven, hence the name. Later, the eggs were simmered for hours on top of the stove. The onion skins darken the white shells and give the eggs a distinctive flavor and creamy texture.
My mother used to dye lots of Easter eggs bright red as she liked them, and is the custom in Greece. She used to have a special old aluminum pot that was permanently stained from this horrible, and surely toxic red dye. I do try to keep the traditions, but I refused to use such coloring in my kitchen, so my mother always dyed a few eggs and brought them with her when she came to Kea for Easter. By a strange coincidence, it was my mother’s last companion who made me start coloring Easter eggs, teaching me this wonderful version of what I knew as huevos haminados. My mother’s Ukrainian companion, taught me how to decorate the eggs with leaves and flowers secured on the egg with a piece of cheesecloth or torn shreds of nylon stocking; different kinds of leaves and flowers will hopefully create beautiful patterns which even when smudged, still look nice, I think
We now make huevos haminados instead of the usual red Easter eggs. We much prefer the nuanced terracotta color to the vividly red, chemically dyed eggs. Our huevos haminados are never perfect but we find them uniquely attractive; plus their flavor is so much more complex! I have learned from
The recipe is just a start, and you can get away with more or less onion skins, and of course more or fewer eggs, cooking them from two hours and up until four. As we have plenty of eggs these days from our neighbor’s hens I dyed a lot because what I like most is pickled huevos haminados, which are simply delicious!
Eggs Cooked in Onion Skins (Huevos Haminados)
Collect onion skins for a few weeks and place them in a sealed plastic bag that you will keep in the refrigerator. If you don’t have onion skins you can use onions, preferably the purple ones.
12 large, very fresh eggs
Peels of 12 or more purple onions, or 8-10 medium purple onions, quartered
Plus 3 medium purple onions, quartered
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Place the eggs in a large pot together with the onion skins and the quartered onions. Pour water to cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Pour in the olive oil, cover the pot and simmers the eggs for 3-4 hours, checking every now and then to add a little water, if it evaporates. Let them cool in the pot with the onion skins, preferably overnight, especially if you have decorated them. Remove with a slotted spoon, dry gently with kitchen paper and rub carefully with a few drops of olive oil to make them shiny, if you like.
If you anticipate that you are not going to eat the Easter eggs fast enough, before they are left to rot in the basket, pickle them, to serve as meze. These delicious pickled eggs keep for up to six months or more!
RECIPE: Pickled Huevos Haminados