I had one of those "Far out, I am SO lucky to be living in NYC" moments this morning. I don't have them all too often, particularly when it's hot and sweaty and smells like 10 million people's rubbish (literally). But this morning Rich and I got up early, and got to the greenmarket just as it was opening. The stalls were stacked to overflowing with fresh vegetables - beautiful carrots and radishes, leafy greens, huge containers of herbs, boxes and boxes of just-picked strawberries and cherries, bread pulled out of the oven only a few hours ago. I love to do a lap of the market before I begin buying things, just to make sure I know exactly what was on offer, and this morning I caught myself in awe of just how beautiful this was - an amazing farmer's market in the middle of this crazy city. We have access to fresh vegetables locally in New Zealand, but nothing on this scale. There's just something about it that blows my mind on the regular. I love heading in just as it's opening, to pick through and see what's on offer.
Everything seems to have come into season all at once. At first it was rhubarb, then slowly strawberries showed up, and in the last week or two, it's suddenly become summer. And it's the best. Our CSA share is full of amazing vegetables, and coupled with the farmers market, I think we have a summer full of delicious veggie-loaded meals ahead of us. I've also slowly gotten the hang of making homemade sourdough, which has meant loads of toast.
One of my favourite ways to pack heaps of veggies into a meal is to cook them down, and either toss them with pasta, or crack some eggs on top and throw them the oven. I spied a spinach and chard baked eggs Ottolenghi posted recently, and couldn't stop thinking about them, so when loads of spinach showed up in our CSA share, I knew what had to be done!
This dish is insanely versatile - a base of garlic and onions is cooked down, then a can of butter beans is tossed in the fragrant mixture, so that they soak up all of the flavour and turn creamy. Then, more spinach than you think will fit into the skillet is added, before eggs are cracked into little wells in the mixture. The whole thing is then baked in the oven until the yolks are just set. It is then finished off with a good dose of feta, and some slivers of preserved lemon. We usually eat dishes like this straight out of the skillet, with a side of crusty bread. It makes a perfect, well rounded meal, regardless what time of the day you are eating it.
A few wee notes:
This is entirely flexible - use the spinach mixture as a base, and add whatever you like to it! We went with preserved lemon and feta (we used a marinated sheep and goats milk one), but also tried it with halloumi and it was just as good.
The eggs will continue to cook once you pull them out of the oven, so pull them out when the whites are just set and the yolks are still runny. If anything, you can always pop them back in for a minute or so to firm them up a little more
Use a skillet or frying pan that can go on the stove and in the oven. Alternatively, fry up the spinach mixture, then transfer to an oven proof dish to bake.
This can be easily scaled for more people, or you can also use a different number of eggs if you are catering for different appetites.
Spinach and butter bean baked eggs with feta and preserved lemon
- Serves 2-3 people -
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt to season
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
350g (12oz) spinach, rinsed and chopped roughly (Approx 2 large bunches)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes, plus more to taste depending on heat preference
100g (3 1/2 oz) feta, crumbled
1/2 a preserved lemon, sliced into thin strips (optional)
Crusty bread to serve
- PROCESS -
Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. In an ovenproof skillet, or heavy bottomed frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and pinch of salt, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until translucent. Add the beans and cook for a further 2 minutes, tossing inthe pan to stir rather than mixing with a spatula to avoid breaking up the beans
Add the spinach a quarter at a time, adding 2 tbsp water with each batch. Allow the spinach to wilt down, stirring gently, before adding the next batch. Stir in the chilli flakes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Make four wells in the mixture, and crack an egg into each well. Place into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the egg whites are only just set. Remove from the oven, and stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Crumble over the feta, and add the preserved lemon over the eggs. Serve with crusty bread.