Cover for "A Year at Catbird Cottage: Recipes for a Nourished Life"
“A Year at Catbird Cottage: Recipes for a Nourished Life” is written and photographed by Melina Hammer and published by Ten Speed Press.

A recipe from Catbird Cottage

Scarlet runner beans are one of my favorite crops. Not only do their flowers lure hummingbirds through their extended season but the young pods burst with a juicy crunch. When allowed to mature, they make an excellent shelled bean whose pattern is reminiscent of pink and black leopard print. The whole experience is Gezamkunstwerk, basically, a total work of art.

This simple but lively breakfast makes use of stale bread, transformed into a crunchy topping you’ll want to sprinkle onto everything. 

Crispy Eggs and Scarlet Runner Beans

Makes 2 servings


• 2 eggs

• 10 to 12 scarlet runner beans or 20 to 24 tender green beans, stem end trimmed

• Extra-virgin olive oil, for sautéing

• Freshly ground black pepper and flake salt

• Herbed bread crumbs (see below)

Crispy Eggs and Scarlet Runner Beans
Crispy Eggs and Scarlet Runner Beans. Photo by Melina Hammer/Catbird Cottage


  1. Crack the eggs into two small shallow bowls and set aside. In a medium-heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté the scarlet runner beans in oil until tender but still bright green, 7 to 9 minutes (if using green beans, cook for half as long — no more than 5 minutes). Turn the beans periodically as they cook. Halfway through, add a tablespoon of water to help them along — the steam produced from the vigorous bubbling will soften their membranes.
  2. Using tongs, hold a bean at its center to see if there is a slight droop. If so, they are ready. If not, cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Push the beans to the perimeter of the pan, drizzle a little oil in the center and add the eggs. They should immediately sizzle upon contact. Cook undisturbed for 3 to 5 minutes. Once the whites closest to the yolk are set, remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Shower the pan with the crispy bread crumbs and season with ground black pepper and flake salt. Bring to the table, set on a trivet and divide between two plates.

Herbed Bread Crumbs


• 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 heel of stale sourdough bread

• ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

• Pinch kosher salt

• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley


    1. Carefully dismantle the small sourdough heel, pressing the tip of a chef’s knife to divide it into small chunks, and go gently bashing away using a mortar until it’s a mix of chunky and fine crumbs. You’ll end up with more herbed bread crumbs than called for — any leftovers can be stored at room temperature in a sealed jar for up to a week.
    2. Make the herbed bread crumb mixture: In a small cast-iron skillet set over medium heat, drizzle the oil. Once the pan is hot, add the bread crumbs and stir until uniformly coated. After cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, add the red pepper flakes and kosher salt, stir to combine, and continue cooking until golden and fragrant, stirring occasionally so that the crumbs brown evenly. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. Once they’re at room temperature, add the chopped parsley and stir to incorporate.

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