I call this creation “green eggs no ham,” and it’s an ideal vegetarian dish. Spiked with lemon zest, chives, chile, and cream, it really doesn’t want bacon or ham or all the other meaty things I automatically think of when I think of eggs.
It’s based on a recipe for sorrel-poached eggs that I came up with when I used to have a sorrel plant on my deck. The poor plant succumbed to the squirrels, who used it to bury (and aggressively dig up) nuts. Although I can certainly buy sorrel at the farmers’ market, it’s not dependably available.
Spinach, however, is always there, except in the broiling heat of summer. From September to June, I can count on finding bunches of the crinkly, dark green leaves, ready to be tossed into salads or wilted in a pan of butter or olive oil, and sometimes crowned with runny eggs.
If you do find sorrel, simply substitute it for the spinach. It will break down into more of a sauce than the spinach does, and the color will fade from verdant to olive drab, but the flavor will pop. Leave out the lemon zest if using sorrel; you won’t need it.
Either way, while I like this for supper (not dinner; eggs are for supper), it’s especially excellent for brunch.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 fat scallions, sliced, white and light greens kept separate from dark greens
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
10 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 3 quarts)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
4 large eggs
Urfa, Aleppo, or crushed red pepper flakes, for serving
Flaky sea salt, for serving
Buttered toast, for serving
1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and cook until the foam subsides. Add the white and light green portions of the scallions and the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chives. Toss in the spinach, a handful at a time, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more. Add the kosher salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cream and lemon zest; simmer until the spinach is very soft, about 3 minutes.
2. Using the back of a spoon, make four little indentations in the spinach—think of them as nests for the eggs. Crack the eggs into the nests. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sprinkle the eggs with kosher salt and pepper. Cover the pan and let the eggs cook until almost opaque, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the eggs rest, covered, until done to your liking, 30 seconds for yolks that are runny (the whites should be completely cooked through), or longer if you like harder eggs.
3. Carefully scoop the eggs and greens into four bowls. Season each bowl with red pepper flakes and flaky salt; garnish with the dark green portions of the scallions. Serve with buttered toast.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Favorite Recipes from Melissa Clark’s Kitchen by Melissa Clark (Black Dog & Leventhal; 2018)
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