Spinaci Con Uova
I’m not usually a believer in coincidences – but this is a coincidence. It must appear that I have been preoccupied with working on recipes containing eggs lately. The truth is, I haven’t been. It is a coincidence. Really! No joke! You’ll understand when you take a closer look at this one: SPINACH WITH EGGS or SPINACI CON UOVA. This is my version of this classic dish from the Emilia-Romagna region.
Where? The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is located South of the Po River extending to Tuscany. This is the area considered to be the heart of Italy in terms of many ingredients that we associate with the finest in Italian cooking: pasta fresca, Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella, Balsamico Invecchiato, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Some of the most studied of Italian chefs earn their stripes at the cooking schools in this region. I salivate just thinking about this region and all that it offers. I offer a cooking class on this region, and I am always excited to bring the very special dishes and ingredients of the area to students. Some are seeing and tasting them for the first time. JOY!
Back to the egg thing: So yes, this dish contains a poached or fried egg, and you’ll be glad it did. It lends the protein to the dish and makes it heartier- not to mention rich and delicious.
Brunch! This dish can be dinner for sure. However, it offers an option for a splendid brunch. The fresh baby spinach, besides being iron-rich, remains the brightest green in this recipe and combines with the grated cheese and spices to produce a gorgeous sight on the plate and an impressive gastronomic experience in your mouth. When you break the yolk and let the beautiful yellow velvet flow “like the Po” into the spinach, you won’t be able to resist diving into this little nest. It is sooo delicious – incredibly quick and easy, and tastes like so much more than the time you spent making it.
To pancetta or not to pancetta… The pancetta (Italian bacon) is optional. It does present tremendous flavor, a lovely crunch, and looks really cute accessorizing the top of this little pyramid – BUT – if you prefer to keep this a vegetarian experience, it will not cause an international incident! There is enough flavor in the dish without the pancetta to offer you a memorable experience – though not celestial. My preference is always to go with the pancetta or pork ingredient in any dish, as it really adds tremendous flavor like no other.
A note on finding pancetta for those who are less familiar – These days, it is commonly sold in the deli meat section of your grocer. You can ask to have it sliced for you just like you do for ham, turkey, roast beef etc.
The dish! This is how it goes…
SPINACH WITH EGGS
(SPINACI CON UOVA)
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 35-40 minutes
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Slices Pancetta (optional)
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 lb. Baby Spinach
1/8 Tsp. Kosher Salt
Some Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of Fresh Nutmeg
1/8 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
Quick squeeze of fresh lemon
4 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
1/4 c. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese + a little extra to sprinkle at the end
2 Poached or Fried Eggs
Fry pancetta in the olive oil until crisp and remove it and reserve for later.
In the same pan – melt the butter and add the spinach in thirds.
It will look like a lot of spinach – but it shrinks as it wilts and will reduce in bulk.
Cook until water evaporates.
Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and hot pepper.
Cook on medium for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
During the cooking, give the spinach just a quick squeeze of a fresh lemon.
Add the cream and stir.
Add the Parmigiano and cook a couple more minutes, stirring.
Cook the eggs.
Plate the spinach. Add an egg on the top and a piece of the reserved crispy pancetta. Sprinkle the egg with a little Parmigiano-Reggiano.
OK! Now you are ready for an incredibly tasty dish of SPINACH WITH EGGS for two. Add a chilled New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and you have yourself a BRUNCH! (A beautiful breakfast in bed option for Valentine’s Day, maybe?) Yeah!
PARLA COME MANGI!
Comments are welcome in the “Speak Your Mind Area” beneath this post online.
Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography