Scrambled Eggs with Chaya Leaves
If you've eaten much in Mexico's Yucatan, you're probably familiar with Chaya leaves. Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius) is apparently very healthy but as usual, I'm more interested in the flavor. We don't have a large Yucatan community here in Napa so you don't see it fresh and you don't see it frozen. I have heard that it grows in Texas and Florida and I was determined to see what I could do here. Early Spring I bought four rooted plants from a vendor on eBay. I put them in a pot and watched them die one by one, except for one. The plant hung in there and throughout the summer it's been getting stronger and more determined. Our weather is a bit loony here this year and I'm not sure what's going to happen so I decided I'd better harvest some of my 10 or so leaves before someone or something else did. So what do do with so little? I asked my friend Delfina of Semilla de Dioses. She and her sister Elidae make excellent recados and pastes in Merida and I trust them more than most anyone in regards to Yucatan food. Delfina suggested scrambled eggs and of course she was right. I added the chopped chaya to onion, garlic, olive oil and fermented manzano chiles. Habanero would have been the more traditional choice but I had to make do with what I had on hand. I and let it saute a bit and then add the eggs. Once the scrambled eggs had set, I spooned on some tomato salsa I'd made earlier. It was beyond delicious and sent me back to a lovely holiday with good friends. The chaya is distinct but not overwhelming. I don't really think spinach is a good substitute. As for the plant, I think I'll keep it in the pot and protected this winter. It can get pretty cold on my mountain and I doubt the chaya will enjoy it. This was a lot of fun and I think it might be worth it to keep trying to adapt a plant here.