We called it strapatsada, from the Italian uova strapazzate (scrambled eggs); it was the comfort food my mother cooked for me and my sister on summer evenings. In the winter I often make it with the cherry tomatoes from the greenhouses of southern Crete, which are quite tasty, althout a far cry from summer tomatoes.
Last week I decided to fry the tomatoes, and instead of mixing in the eggs, I nestled them in the pan, and after 2-3 minutes, I moved the pan to a 200 C oven and baked for 5-8 minutes, until the eggwhite was opaque. We enjoyed it enormously with fresh crusty bread.
Plain scrambled eggs are not a common Greek dish, but a huge egg and tomato scramble, as you might find in a Greek diner in America, is still a national institution. Some people add crumbled feta in the pan, but I much prefer to sprinkle it at the end; I enjoy my strapatsada with toasted bread or with olive-oil-fried potato slices, a heavenly combination!
Serve with toasted multi-grain, whole-wheat bread and a green salad, or with roast vegetables I often serve it with toasted bulgur pilaf, but simple sliced potatoes fried in olive oil are still my favorite complement.
See also the Scrambled Eggs with Fava beans which is another somewhat different, yet equally delicious combination.
Menemen, the Turkish version, has diced peppers, both sweet and hot, along with tomatoes and chopped scallions. The Provençale bruillade à l’Arlésienne (scrambled eggs from Arles) has grated zucchini, tomatoes and garlic (see variations). Much like classic scrambled eggs, strapatsada needs to be soft and creamy, not dry or too watery. I use my own tomato confit or add a few sun-dried tomatoes to the pan to get the intense tomato flavor I remember from my childhood.
Serves 2-4 as a main course, 5-6 as part of a meze spread
12 ripe plum tomatoes, confit (recipe follows) or 6 canned plum tomatoes (best quality), drained, plus 6 sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (less if you use tomato confit)
1/4 cup thick Greek yogurt
1 good pinch Maraş pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Good fruity olive oil, for drizzling
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme (optional)
2-3 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley (optional)
Toasted whole-wheat bread slices, for serving
If you use tomato confit, place in a skillet together with their oil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often to thicken.
If you use canned and sun-dried tomatoes, warm 4 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet, add the tomatoes and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often for 10 minutes or until thickened.
In a bowl beat the eggs lightly with a pinch of salt and the yogurt.
Lower the heat and add the eggs to the tomatoes, sprinkle with the pepper and cook, tossing often with a wooden spatula until the eggs are just set. Be careful not to overcook the eggs.
Transfer to a shallow bowl and serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with Feta, if you like, drizzle with fruity olive oil, and add fresh oregano, thyme, or parsley, if you like.
Alternatively, you can spread tablespoons of the strapatsada on toasts and serve as bruschetta.
Menemen (Turkish Tomato and Pepper Scrambled Eggs)
Sauté 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and diced, until soft. Add the tomatoes to the pan and proceed as above.
Bruillade à l’Arlésienne (Scrambled Eggs from Arles)
Grate a small zucchini and sauté in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft. Add a small, minced garlic clove with the tomatoes and proceed as above.