Scrambled eggs with spinach and sweet onions

June 4, 2009 at 1:42 am (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Dark leafy greens, Necessarily nonvegan, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes)


Last night we tried another recipe from the Spring section of Fresh Food Fast.  The recipe actually called for dandelion greens, not spinach, but I’ve never seen dandelion greens in German (except perhaps by the side of the road), and the recipe says other tender greens like spinach and chard can be substituted.    I also cut down on the oil and cheese in the original recipe, and simplified the recipe a bit.  Here’s my modified version (for 2 people).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound washed leaf spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 ounces crumbly goat cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Instructions: Warm the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onion and red pepper flakes.  Meanwhile, chop the spinach.  When the onion starts to brown around the edges, add the spinach and saute briefly, until the spinach is wilted.  Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, goat cheese, and salt.  Raise the heat to high and pour the egg mixture evenly over the vegetables.  Scramble the eggs, turning off the heat just before the eggs appear done, so that they’re not overcooked.  They’ll finish cooking in the pan.

For the original recipe, buy the cookbook.  You won’t regret it!

I halved the oil and cheese in the recipe because 1 Tbs. of olive oil and 2 ounces of cheese per person just seemed a bit excessive, especially if you also have oil with your baby artichokes (the other recipe in this spring menu).  With bitter dandelion greens the fat would help to cut the bitterness, but with mild spinach that much fat is simply not necessary.  We couldn’t find baby artichokes, however, so we paired this dish with some leftover lentil chili instead.

Berley says that spinach can be subbed for the dandelion greens, but he doesn’t say to skip the blanching step.  I understand blanching dandelion, which can be very bitter, but I can’t imagine blanching spinach for 2 to 3 minutes!  I wonder if this is simply an omission, or if he really would blanch spinach and chard as well?

The scrambled eggs didn’t taste very eggy.  The predominant flavor was actually the onion, which tasted very sweet.  I could also taste the spinach, but the egg was in the background, and I couldn’t taste the goat cheese at all, although I’m sure it added to the richness of the dish.   After my first bite my first thought was “tofu scramble,” (but not in a bad, day-glo turmeric way).  Derek said that the dish actually reminded him a lot of egg foo young, which is apparently a very fried Chinese egg and onion omelette.

Scrambling the eggs with the onions and spinach in the pan prevents large, fluffy curds from forming, so the texture wasn’t very scrambled egg-ish.  Next time I make this I will try what cook’s illustrated suggests when making a “hearty scramble”:  remove the vegetables from the pan before adding the eggs, and cook off any moisture left in the pan, as too much water makes scrambled eggs weepy and rubbery.  Then gently fold the vegetables back into the eggs.  I’m worried that it will be hard to distribute the vegetables, and the flavors won’t permeate the dish as well, but I’ll try it and report back.  Also, since I couldn’t taste the reduced amount of cheese, I might try subbing the cheese for 1/4 cup of milk.  (According to CI the water and fat in the milk keep the eggs from becoming tough by getting in between the protein strands, and preventing them from joining too tightly, and helping to incorporate pockets of steam into the eggs as they are folded.)  A bit of goat cheese could be crumbled on top of the dish for flavor.

One more note about salt.  This was the first recipe in FFF where I didn’t feel the need to halve the salt.  The salt level was perfect for me, but Derek thought it was a bit low.  However much salt you use, make sure to salt your eggs before cooking, as CI says that salt affects the electrical charge on the protein molecules in eggs, and reduces the tendency of the proteins to bond with each other, which means a looser network and more tender eggs.

Update Nov 2012:

I made this recipe again with a bit of dandelion, but I only had about 3 ounces.  I also added about 5 ounces of escarole.  I used 2 Tbs. of olive oil this time and a full medium onion.  I didn’t have any goat cheese so used an Italian robiola cheese that tasted kind of like a firmer brie.

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 ounces dandelion + 5 ounces escarole (blanched for about 3 minutes)
  • 5 medium eggs (about 235g)
  • 1.5 ounces brie, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (maybe a tad too much)

I liked this recipe—again.  The dandelion wasn’t particularly bitter.  I didn’t really notice the cheese.  The escarole made it slightly similar to the baked escarole with eggs recipe, but you don’t put this recipe in the oven, and the texture is different.   I still wished the texture of the eggs was a bit fluffier. Still, I liked it. It made a small but filling dinner for the two of us.

Rating: B

Scrambled Eggs

The basic scrambled egg recipe we use, from Cook’s Illustrated, except slightly less butter:

Ingredients

4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Crack eggs into a medium bowl. Add salt, pepper, and milk. Whip with a fork until streaks are gone and color is pure yellow; stop beating while the bubbles are still large.
  2. Meanwhile, put butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet, then set the pan over high heat. When the butter foams, swirl it around and up the sides of the pan. Before foam completely subsides, pour in beaten eggs. With a firm plastic or silicon spatula, push eggs from one side of the pan to the other, slowly but deliberately, lifting and folding eggs as they form into curds, until eggs are nicely clumped into a single mound, but remain shiny and wet, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

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