My Goals

  • Rich, tender eggs

  • Flavor-packed, concentrated vegetables

To help maximize my chances of tender curds, I’d use the test kitchen’s recipe for Perfect Scrambled Eggs.

You can bulk up scrambled eggs with any mix of vegetables, but one of my favorites is the pepper and tomato sauté called pipérade, a preparation that originated in the Basque region of northern Spain and southern France. Pipérade delivers richness, acidity, and tempered heat from a combination of sweet or mildly spicy fresh peppers, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and onion; fragrant spices, such as paprika; and a subtly spicy, fruity dried pepper called piment d’Espelette that is widely grown in the area. If you’ve scrambled eggs with vegetables, you know the challenges: how to incorporate watery produce without leaving the eggs in a puddle of liquid and how to prevent the eggs from cooking up as stringy bits rather than pillowy curds.

To help maximize my chances of tender curds, I’d use the test kitchen’s recipe for Perfect Scrambled Eggs. Its combination of high and low heat (the initial blast causes the eggs to puff up, while a slow finish keeps them soft and moist), a generous amount of fat (we use half-and-half), and a gentle folding technique produces rich, tender results.

Most pipérade recipes call for precooking the vegetables to evaporate excess liquid. I started by sautéing the aromatics—chopped onion, a bay leaf, a few cloves of minced garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes, which contributed at least some of the fruitiness of hard-to-find piment d’Espelette—in olive oil and then added red and green bell pepper strips and some salt. I covered the pan and let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes to soften the peppers. I stirred in a few coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes and cooked the mixture uncovered for another 10 minutes or so to concentrate the flavors and evaporate the tomato liquid. Out came the bay leaf, and in went a couple of tablespoons of minced fresh parsley. The mixture was nicely thickened, and it tasted rich, if a bit flat, so I added a last-minute splash of sherry vinegar. What didn’t go over well were the bits of chewy tomato skin, so I made subsequent batches with a can of whole peeled tomatoes (drained of most of their excess liquid). I also tried swapping the green bell peppers for mild Cubanelle peppers, which tasters preferred for their less vegetal taste.

For this signature Basque dish, we chose pale green Cubanelle peppers for their sweet and mild flavor and cooked the vegetables separately from the eggs to ensure that the moisture they released didn't interfere with the eggs’ texture.

Where many recipes go wrong is scrambling the eggs directly in the pipérade. The liquid in the produce causes the eggs to cook up stringy and wet rather than creamy and smooth; it also muddies their soft yellow color. I figured I could just push the cooked pipérade to the side of the pan, scramble the eggs, and fold the two components together, but even then some liquid bled into the eggs. So I further separated the two components by removing the pipérade from the skillet and wiping the pan clean before scrambling the eggs. I also swapped the half-and-half for fruity olive oil, which better complemented the dish. To keep up the tidy appearance, I plated the two components side by side rather than folding the cooked eggs into the peppers (though the latter is traditional and a fine option), and I garnished the platter with minced parsley. The finished product was attractive enough for company, quick and easy enough for every day, and incredibly satisfying.

Keys to Success

  • Rich, tender eggs

    A combination of high and then low heat, lots of fat, and a gentle folding technique produces moist, tender curds. Keeping the pipérade and the eggs separate until they hit the plate prevents the vegetables’ moisture from interfering with the eggs’ fluffy texture.
  • Flavor-packed, concentrated vegetables

    Red bell peppers and pale green Cubanelle peppers offer sweetness and delicate fresh flavor, respectively. By using canned peeled tomatoes (drained of most of their liquid), we avoid chewy tomato skins.