If you’re a fan of Jewish delis that serve breakfast, then you likely have a soft spot for the LEO. No, we’re not talking about your uncle; we’re talking about the classic zhuzhed-up scramble made with lox, eggs and onion that’s a staple everywhere from Russ & Daughters in New York, to Kenny and Ziggy’s in Texas, to Wise Sons in California.
The LEO is an ode to the building blocks of Jewish American Ashkenazi food. While you might think of lox as an ancient Ashkenazi food, salmon wasn’t actually a common ingredient in Eastern European cuisine. When Jews immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century it coincided with a time when salmon was being amply shipped from the West Coast. Salmon is clearly ideal for smoking and curing with its fattiness and subtle flavor, and lox quickly became a favored deli staple.
As for onions – caramelized ones are an essential, and make for an inexpensive way to add a big depth of flavor to a wide range of dishes. Think: bialys and chopped liver. My grandmother seemed to constantly be standing over a stove stirring onions in a skillet until golden brown, and then adding them to just about every savory dish she made. That said, the shade of your LEO onions are a personal preference; if you like them on the paler side, simply sauté them for less time. Buttery eggs bring everything together with their rich, intrinsically dairy-free, hearty friendliness. A final garnish of chives or dill adds a touch of freshness.
The LEO is always a nostalgic, satisfying breakfast, no bagel required (but absolutely welcome on the side). This recipe comes together in under half an hour and can be doubled as needed. For that reason, I love serving this to friends and family as an easy, flavor-filled brunch.
- ½ white or yellow onion
- 6 large eggs
- 3 oz Nova lox
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp olive oil
- pinch of salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- fresh chives or dill, for garnish
- Start by prepping your ingredients: Dice the onion and roughly chop the salmon. Season the eggs with just a pinch of salt and pepper, as the lox will add a lot of saltiness later. Whisk the eggs until well-beaten.
- To a skillet over medium heat, add the butter and oil (this prevents the butter from burning). Add the onions to the pan and sauté for 10-15 minutes, depending on how brown you like your onions.
- Add the eggs to the pan, and scramble them to your liking. Right before the eggs are finished cooking, add the chopped lox to the pan and gently fold them into the eggs.
- Garnish with fresh dill and/or chives, if desired, and serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Quick
- Cuisine: Ashkenazi