(Healthy) Stick-To-Your-Ribs Breakfast

In Recipies on December 2, 2011 at 11:45 am

We stumbled on this breakfast staple at a kibbutz in northern Israel where it, no doubt, became a staple because eggs and spinach are also a Lebanese favorite.  The truly amazing thing about this breakfast, is its ability to stay with a person from daybreak to well past early afternoon.  I brought the combo home and the ingredients always find their way into my “road cooler” for distant rifle matches.  Shooting typically starts before 7am and “lunch” may not happen until all of the shooters are on the same page at mid-afternoon.  While others are digging into bags of jerky or dried fruit by 10am, my spinach and egg breakfast keeps me contentedly humming along.

Over the years, I have experimented with the ingredients a bit.  I found store-bought parmesan cheeses far too mild and feta, while it has a wonderfully stout character, turns the dish into sort of a gooey mess…tasting good, but the texture is a bit off-putting.  I now search out very old pecarino Romano blocks and grate several tablespoons of this on top of the eggs and spinach.  It adds a strong cheese flavor but does not melt and add to the liquid in the pan.

Some cooks put thyme, cayenne, or other spices/herbs in their versions.  We like the delicate flavor of the spinach and so we omit added spices and herbs.

I have also experimented with combinations of white onion, green onion, shallot, garlic, and leeks.  And, while I love garlic as much as air, it tends to overpower.  White onion is great if the onion is very sweet.  Green onion tends to get slimy.  Leeks and shallots give the best result, but both are much pricier than common onions.  My local mass food retailer sells shallots for 50 cents each and leeks for anywhere from $1-2 each.  Consequently, I use those ingredients only when I can get a deal on them or if I get a better price by buying in bulk.

Interestingly, the type of spinach used does not give a lot of variation in quality.  I have used fresh and frozen spinach with equally fine results.  I have not used canned spinach…because I find it disgusting.  If you use frozen spinach, just warm it enough in a microwave oven to the point where you can handle it and squeeze out the added water.  Frozen spinach has a lot of added water.  A few days ago, I found an excellent buy on fresh, organic baby spinach in 5-pound bags.  (You may have been wondering what gives with all of the spinach recipes lately?)

When I did some browsing to see how other folks were doing this, I found that I use much more spinach and that the result looks more like what I first enjoyed in northern Israel.  Feel free to use less, if spinach is not one of your favorite foods.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 TBS olive oil

1 C chopped onion or leek (green parts too), or 2 TBS chopped shallot

4 C fresh spinach or 1 pound frozen (thawed, squeezed, and well drained)

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 TBS freshly ground pecorino Romano cheese

salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat.  Add the onion (or shallots, or leek – be sure to thoroughly de-mud the leek!) and cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are just beginning to turn soft.  Add the spinach by the handful (if fresh) and cook each handful until it wilts before adding more.  If using frozen spinach, dump it all in at once…thoroughly breaking it up and scatter it uniformly in the pan.  Add the eggs and toss with a spoon until well-set.  Remove to warm plates and sprinkle with grated cheese.  Do not add salt until tasting.  The cheese may have just enough salt on its own.  Serve with fresh pita (or toast) and lots of black pepper.


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