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Food trend: A chef tries TikTok's viral pesto eggs

Try it or toss it? Jordan Mooney decides whether this TikTok trend is worth the effort.

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First, it was whipped coffee, then it was feta pasta, but TikTok's latest big food trend is pesto eggs. 

Previously favoured by Gen Z teens, video-sharing app TikTok has exploded in popularity over the past year or so, with Hootsuite reporting that the app has recorded over two billion downloads and has around 689 million active users. While a lot of the content is made up of viral dances (search Blinding Lights by The Weeknd for an example), there is a corner of TikTok dedicated to food which is where you'll find me most of the time. 

Yes, I am almost 27 and therefore decidedly not a member of Gen Z. Yes, I am a trained chef who knows how to cook. And yet, I am constantly enthralled by TikTok and the wonderfully weird creations that its users think up. Part of it is good old fashioned Irish begrudgery - when restaurants and bars opened in the UK recently, I spent a good portion of my day stalking TikTok to see what everyone was eating, torn between jealousy and Covid-related fear. Another, probably larger, part of my interest in TikTok is that it has democratised food in a unique way, sort of like Twitter did before it. Anyone can share a recipe with their followers, who are then inspired to recreate each dish and share again with their own audience. It's viral media at its best, helping cooks around the world to dissect, discuss and digest new and exciting food. 

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@amywilichowski

##eggs ##pestoeggs ##homecook

♬ cooking video - cooking

While feta pasta was the big trend earlier this year - apparently supermarkets in some countries actually sold out of the cheese, such was the popularity of this dish - the newest viral meal is pesto eggs. Made with minimal ingredients, pesto eggs has everything a good breakfast needs - creamy cheese, salty pesto and of course, a perfect fried egg. 

Created by TikTok user Amy Wilichowski, whose original video has been more than nine million times now, pesto eggs seem to hit the sweet spot between popular and actually delicious, resulting in its viral popularity around the world. According to Wilichowski's recipe, to make pesto eggs, first you heat up a spoonful of basil pesto in a pan over medium heat, then crack in an egg or two and leave to fry - the pesto replaces oil or butter and gives the cooked eggs a strong basil flavour and interesting green hue. While the pesto eggs are cooking, Wilichowski spreads a slice of toast with ricotta, then tops it with some avocado and honey. Once the eggs are finished, she places them on top of the toast with a little black pepper and some chilli flakes, then tucks in. Sounds simple, right? Of course, I had to try it out. 

I knew I would have to make a couple of changes - I wanted to use my favourite Irish ingredients, plus I really hate avocados, so I knew I wanted to leave them out of my rendition. I started with a tablespoon of basil pesto in a non-stick pan and allowed it to heat for a few minutes, which helped the sauce to release its oils, before cracking in two eggs (one for me and one for my official taster, my mum).

While the eggs were cooking in the pesto, I stuck two gluten-free bagels under the grill to toast. Once golden brown, I lashed on lots of St Tola goats cheese and drizzled it with a little honey, then topped everything with my cooked egg. As a finishing touch, I spooned over some White Mausu peanut rayu, a gorgeous Irish product made with roasted peanuts, tamari and chilli flakes, to bring out the savoury notes of this dish. 

The verdict

There's a good reason this dish went viral - it is so delicious!

Using pesto as oil is such a simple concept, but it works really well and gives delicious nuttiness to the eggs. While I know that avocado is super popular for breakfast, I don't think this dish needs it at all. The cheese, whether you opt for ricotta, goats cheese or your own personal favourite, adds some creaminess that pulls the whole dish together. I reckon if you added avocado too, it'd be a little too heavy. The peanut rayu is non-negotiable though - the crunchy, spicy drizzle really adds to the pesto eggs.

Having enjoyed pesto eggs myself, I can confirm that I will one hundred per cent be making this dish regularly. While it's positioned as a breakfast dish, I think pesto eggs will be my new go-to work from home lunch option thanks to its non-existent prep time, off the charts deliciousness and of course, the addition of a perfect fried egg. I'm very grateful that Amy Wilichowski came up with this dish and I reckon I'll be riffing on this for a while.

Have you tried pesto eggs? Let us know!

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