Thirty years ago, a recipe for eggs in spinach nests might have had a hard time making it to print. Because of their cholesterol content, eggs were considered a health risk and were taken a beating in the press. By the time the dust settled, it turned out that eggs might not be as troublesome as once believed, and anyone who loved eggs felt a sense of culinary relief. Nutrition experts now say there is a place in healthy diets for all foods, including eggs. The trick is to not focus on a single food but to strive for variety and moderation. And so, egg consumption, which had fallen to a record low in 1991, rebounded and continues to rise.
Sometimes called “nature’s perfect food,” eggs are an inexpensive source of quality protein and an important source of vitamins and minerals. One egg has 212 milligrams of cholesterol, but less than two grams of saturated fat (primarily found in meat and cheeses)—the real culprit for increasing the risk of heart disease. In its most recent recommendations, the American Heart Association says healthy people can eat up to four eggs a week.
Egg recipes run the gamut from fast and easy scrambled to time-consuming souffles. One of the best combinations is eggs and spinach. Eggs in spinach nests can be the busy cook’s answer to Eggs Benedict. Instead of poaching eggs individually, they’re baked right in the spinach and served on English muffins. It’s an easy recipe to embellish, but any way you eat it, it makes a terrific brunch or supper dish.
Oven-Poached Eggs in Spinach Nests
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound small-curd cottage cheese
4 (10-ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs
1 cup (4-ounces) shredded Swiss or Parmesan cheese
4 English muffins, split and toasted
1/2 cup slivered red bell pepper (optional)
1/2 cup slivered onion (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. To prepare the spinach nests, combine eggs, flour and cottage cheese; whisk well. Add spinach, salt and pepper; stir well. (This can be done up to 2 days ahead). Press mixture into prepared dish. Make 8 indentations with the back of a spoon (this is where the eggs will later be placed). Bake 25 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and using a spoon, hollow the nests out more deeply. Break an egg into each indentation. Bake 15 minutes or until whites are set. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 1 minute.
4. Place 1 egg and spinach nest on each English muffin half. Garnish with slivered red pepper and onion, if using. Serves 8.
Recipe by Crescent Dragonwagon
Per serving: 320 calories, 14g fat, 25g prot., 24g carbs., 4g fiber, 640mg sodium.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn