Our local farmers market just opened last weekend. I was so excited to be able to find fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables sold by farmers I trust. While there, I picked up a lovely 1 pound piece of freshly caught northern halibut from the fish monger. I already had a bunch of California-grown asparagus and broccoli in my refrigerator. When I got home, I realized I needed to focus on getting those vegetables cooked before they went bad. It wasn’t hard to decide about dinner – halibut with asparagus and broccoli. Shopping at the farmers market really perked me up, and I decided to go all out for dinner. I made avgolemeno sauce for the vegetables.
This is a classic Greek sauce. It’s silky smooth and has a delicious lemon zip. It’s similar to hollandaise but a whole lot easier to prepare and not quite as rich. My mother and grandmother would make two distinct avgolemeno sauces: one was for the famous Greek soup and the other was for vegetables, stuffed cabbage or grape leaves, and tuna/salmon patties or loaf. The avgolemeno for soup used whipped egg whites, so the resulting soup had a thin and foamy broth (Sometimes my family would use this version for stuffed grape leaves). The stand-alone avgolemeno is thicker and more stable. It uses a roux to create a sauce that can be easily kept warm for a while and can also be reheated. The second version is what I made.
The recipe makes almost 3 cups of sauce but that’s not a problem for me. I've already used it twice with asparagus and the broccoli. Because of the lemon, it does not suffer from a lack of salt. It’s a perfect low sodium treat. It could easily substitute for traditional hollandaise in eggs benedict. And it doesn't need babying to reheat. I've been plopping it on top of leftover vegetables and nuking them in the microwave. If the cold leftover sauce separates, just stir it up using a spoon or whisk. No trouble at all!
If you want to see me making the sauce way back in 2000 (pre low sodium days), check out this episode from our Greek cooking show. All three sauces featured in the episode are good with vegetables and need no salt to taste good.
Greek Egg/Lemon Sauce
Silky smooth, sumptuous and rich, with a distinct lemon tang. Nothing could be better served with cooked vegetables of all kinds, and especially stuffed cabbage or grape leaves. A true Greek classic
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
2 ½ cups NSA heated broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 eggs, beaten
Juice of two lemons (more if desired)
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour, stirring mixture to blend well. Allow butter/flour mixture to cook and bubble at least one minute. Slowly pour in heated broth, stirring continuously. Cook mixture until thickened. Turn heat to low. Beat eggs in separate bowl with lemon juice until light and fluffy. Add hot sauce, ladleful by ladleful, to egg mixture. Incorporate at least 1/3 of sauce into eggs. Slowly pour back egg/sauce mixture into sauce in pot. Cook over low heat for at least five minutes.
Serve with cooked cabbage wedges, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, zucchini, artichokes; stuffed cabbage leaves or stuffed grape leaves, vegetable, chicken, or and fish patties/fritters; or salmon/tuna loaf. Reheat over low heat.