I just spent four dollars and twenty five cents. On a tomato.
A fragrant, deep red, admittedly adorable farmer’s-market fresh tomato with an endearing little split in the skin that tomatoes often get when they are literally bursting with perfect ripe deliciousness… but still just. a. tomato.
I almost had a panic attack when this little dude went on the scale and I heard the words “That’ll be four dollars and twenty five cents, please” leave the farmer’s mouth. Four dollars and twenty five cents! For one tomato! Chaos, imagines of my balance spreadsheet spiraling wildly out of control, were whirling through my head and my brain was shouting PUT IT BACK as my mouth said “Do you have change for a ten?”
I know! I know. I should have put it back. But I had already committed to it! I had touched its smooth tomato skin. I had smelled that fresh tomato-leaf smell on its little green top. I was enamored with its little tomato split. I had lifted its round red weight to the scale, and called it “this little guy” while doing so. I was hooked…. After all that fuss, I was simply too embarrassed to put it back.
Also, there was definitely a threat in the farmer’s glare. I got the distinct impression he was challenging me, daring me NOT to buy the tomato.
I was bullied into buying a tomato.
(Bullied into buying a tomato! How great is that? Seriously, I love my life.)
Anyway, with my not-so-little-anymore tomato weighing on my conscience, I decided I would attempt to atone with a virtuously thrifty dinner. In the bowels of my refrigerator I found six sad little butterball potatoes I’d purchased at the farmer’s market almost a month ago with some good intention or other. I would not let them go to waste!
I chopped three of them them up into little cubes the size of home fries, tossed them into a frying pan with a glug of olive oil, and put them on a medium heat.
In addition to the tomato, I had also purchased a lovely bunch of red spring onions. I pulled one from the bunch, chopped it up (bulb and greens and all) and tossed it into the pan with the potatoes.
While that was happily sputtering away, I reached further into my farmer’s market bag and came up with a bunch of deep green swiss chard. I washed a few leaves of that, chopped up the white stems, and tossed them into the pan with a dash of kosher salt and a grind of pepper.
At that point the potatoes had been sitting in a single layer for about five or six minutes and had developed a nice golden-brown on one side, so I gave everything a stir and let it sit while I slivered the swiss chard greens. Then I tossed those on top with another dash of kosher salt. I gave everything a stir, let it sit for a moment until the chard greens started to wilt, and then poured everything into a bowl.
I know you read “bowl” and probably thought that was it, right? Wrong.
I threw the frying pan back on the heat, little droplets of oil and moisture from the potatoes and greens still clinging to its surface, and cracked a pale-green freckled egg (from my previous week’s purchases) into it.
I cooked it barely overeasy (to preserve the orange yolk) and slid it over my spring onion hash.
And then stabbed that pert little yolk with my fork.
Quick? Check. Easy? Check. Thrifty? You bet. Tasty? Oh my goodness, would you LOOK at that yolk? It slid right into all the little crevices, making itself at home amidst the sweet onions, the crisp earthy edges of the butterballs and the slightest whisper of tart crunch from the wilted chard.
Fifteen minutes later, I was officially one meal and three potatoes closer to a happier-looking budget spreadsheet (and a very happy tummy). Victory!
I threw a smug glance back at my tomato.