Boiled eggs in my salad

You know, I thought I had mentioned where I buy eggs in my post on loving eggs but I realised, when deciding which producer I wanted to talk about for My Mindful Kitchen this month, I hadn't noted any farms in particular. And as my brother recently spoke with me of his intention to buy good eggs but his frustration at not knowing where to start, I thought I'd drop some names.

We're spoilt on the Mornington Peninsula with access to free-range eggs from chickens who are truly able to roam free, forage for slugs and peck their greens. This is how chickens should live, they should wander on pasture and play and dust bathe with their beaks and such intact. If you raise chickens they can eat your scraps and contribute to a sustainable land cycle. And in return you get an incredibly nutritious gift (how special fresh eggs are) and a few loyal friends. If you don't have your own chickens, or space to perhaps ponder getting your own, you can find people who are producing happy "green" pastured eggs and share in the goodness. Seek out some farms, visit your farmers market and ask questions, talk to friends, hunt can use this guide to do a little research and find a producer you want to support. Generally speaking, you need to get out of the supermarket and find eggs at a market, local butcher or specialty shop. Don't trust any old "free-range" label, as they may not be truly free-range, having only periodic access to outdoors yet still suffering in overcrowded, inhumane conditions. It may take more effort, but finding a good egg producer is something we all should and can do. Factory farming is horrific and we should not be supporting it.

Where I get my eggs Ideally I'll be gifted a carton full of eggs from my parents' chooks' (with a few duck eggs from mum's friend thrown in, which invariably get churned into super creamy ice-dream), but I also buy them from the shops. Nirvana Free-Range Eggs are from a farm out Langwarrin way, and you'll find their gorgeous, popular eggs at various producers around the Mornington Peninsula (Somers General StoreMerricks General Store and Bulk Wholefoods to name a few). Dee's Kitchen use Nirvana eggs in their brunch dishes, which only further encourages me to loiter at Dee's on the weekends. If I'm at the Mt Eliza Farmers Market early enough I can buy Hens of Hallora eggs, but usually it's Nirvana.

Storing So perhaps you've stocked up on some super fresh, green, pastured eggs (yay) and are curious as to where to store them? I keep fresh eggs in the cupboard or on my counter, as I use them pretty quickly and we live in a cooler climate region. However if I have a surplus I'll keep them in the fridge. Fresh eggs last a while, but to check whether they're still good I'll do the float test - submerge an egg in water and if it floats, well, don't eat it.

Let's boil and salad I love adding boiled eggs to my salad as a filling protein source and a meat alternative. Another mindful kitchen intention of mine is to cut down my meat consumption, and while eggs are an animal source of protein, green eggs have less of an environmental impact than beef. On this day I combined my boiled eggs with cooked barley (a terribly nutritious grain) and some pesto (a terribly nutritious sauce). In my practice as a dietitian I see many people who are confused about grains, notably wheat. While every body is different, I believe the key to healthy grain consumption is variety. And while barley is not something I eat regularly purely for a taste preference, Ben loves it so I throw it into the mix every now and then. Plus, I appreciate its fibre content. Many people inquire as to how I boil my eggs, as they often look perfect. To that I say, "thanks!"... I do take my egg boiling quite seriously. And indeed they are often perfect *dusts my shoulders off*. Sometimes me eggs are stubborn and basically the entire white comes off with the shell, but usually, yeah, they are pretty great. It's taken time to get there, some trial and error, and I describe my favoured method in the recipe below. So that's it! Happy egg eating, friends. I'd love it if you share in the comments below where you buy your eggs, if you have a particular producer you love. You might help out fellow readers who live near you!

Boiled Egg and Barley Salad with Pesto

Serves 2

4 free-range, pastured eggs
1 & 1/2 cups cooked Barley (I used pearl barley, but get hulled if you can and follow this link for cooking instructions. I also cook my grains in stock, as it provides an extra kick of flavour)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 small clove Garlic, crushed 2 handfuls Kale (I used Cavolo Nero)
2 tablespoons Pinenuts, toasted
1 juicy Lemon
1-2 tablespoons Pesto (I used my homemade classic basil pesto)
Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper

Optional: a few small chopped radishes or some diced red onion, for crunch

1. to get the perfect hard-boiled eggs: place room-temperature eggs in a saucepan and cover them with cold water (allowing enough room for them to float). Bring them to the boil. As soon as they are boiling turn the heat off, cover with the saucepan lid and leave them for 7 minutes (2 minutes shorter for runnier yolk, 2 minutes longer for harder yolk). Drain the eggs and run them under cold water, then allow them to sit in cold water until completely chilled before peeling (I leave mine for ~15 minutes).
2. While the eggs are cooling, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, then the kale and a small pinch of salt. Cook for a few minutes until soft, turing the heat down if required so the garlic doesn't burn.
3. Add the cooked barley to the bowls and top with the cooked, garlicy kale, then squeeze lemon juice over the top to taste. Toss to combine. Add the chopped radish or onion if using, followed by the boiled eggs cut in half. Drizzle the pesto over the top and scatter the toasted pinenuts. Season to taste with sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if desired.

Heidi xo