creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel

creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel (via thepigandquill.com)

creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel (via thepigandquill.com)Easter eggs. Can we call these that? Is that just too easy, too obvious, when I tell you that this brunchy feast is the exact thing you’ll want to dive your face into come Easter Sunday? Maybe so, but I never promised to be a clever one. And freaking Easter eggs — c’mon! It’s kinda cute. Cyuuuuuuute. Kyoooote.

I’m getting soft.

Ok, but before we talk about eggs real quick, can we just address THE JINX? Have you guys watched it? We were completely sucked in and polished off the whole mini-series in, like, three days. (I’m a liar. Two days.) And then went totally down the rabbit hole reading everything The New York Times has ever written on that squirrelly little muther. It’s only six eppies, you guys. Go watch it right now.

And then watch Mad Men, because the first half of Season 7 is finally on Netflix and I ripped through that, too. I can’t tell if I’m liking Peggy or hating Peggy or liking Don or hating Don but I think I’m liking Don and still on the fence about Peggy and probably all men should look as dashing with silver hair as Roger Sterling. Thoughts thoughts thoughts?? It’s only seven eppies, you guys. Go watch it right now.

creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel (via thepigandquill.com)Alright, now we can get back to eggs.

When I was a kiddo, special occasions were often celebrated with petite prime rib dinners at the Black Angus or the local Lyon’s. Like many a Chinese grandma, my Paw Paw was a sucker for the ol’ early bird special, and I quickly learned the pleasure that is the herb-crusted prime rib of beef — accompanied, of course, by a dripping ramekin of au jus and a perfect sphere of whipped horseradish portioned out by the world’s smallest ice cream scoop. I took only too much joy in perforating my steak rather unceremoniously (ok, rather violently, if we’re honest) with the tines of my fork before drowning the whole thing in au jus — but that paled in comparison to the real thrill of the meal. That is: picking the two sides that would be hitching a ride to tummy town alongside my mutilated main course.

From the potato column: a baker, of course. (Sour cream and butter, miss? Oh hells yes.)
And for my veggie: creamed spinach.

Every. Single. Time.

creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel (via thepigandquill.com)
Admittedly, you don’t have to have a childhood riddled with questionable steak-eating rituals to appreciate the star of this recipe, but having a soft spot for the nostalgia that is creamed spinach in and of itself is perhaps helpful. Few veggie sides are as rich or as comforting — and when you add sweet, nutty fennel to the mix, it just becomes that much more special. (Note: the way I named this recipe is kind of misleading as the fennel is actually creamed right in with the spinach, but it just sounded better…)

On its own, the creamed spinach would make a lovely side — and please do consider allowing that portion of the recipe to stand alone a time or two, as it’s utterly spoonable — but paired with crunchy toast and a drippy egg, it’s instant brunch fare. Add an herby fruit salad and a platter of crisp bacon (or bacon-studded breakfast sausages!!) and you’re looking at a full-on holiday feast in under an hour. Not too shab-shab. 😉

Happy (early!) Easter, friends!
And seriously: go stream all the shows. Like, now.

xoxo,
Em

creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel (via thepigandquill.com)creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel (via thepigandquill.com)creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel (via thepigandquill.com)

creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
By:
Makes: about 6 servings
Ingredients
  • For the Creamed Spinach + Fennel
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • black pepper
  • 2 T tapioca flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp dried mustard
  • dash freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 bag (16oz) frozen spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained (see note)
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • For Serving
  • 6 thick slices bread
  • 6 eggs
  • olive oil
  • sea salt + freshly cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet or cast iron pan, melt butter and oil over med-high flame. Add garlic and onion and sauté until translucent, a couple of mins.
  2. Add fennel, salt, red pepper flakes, and a few good grinds of black pepper and sauté until fennel begins to brown in places, stirring occasionally, 5-7 mins.
  3. Sprinkle tapioca starch over fennel and stir to coat veggies evenly. Gradually add milk, stirring thoroughly to avoid lumps. Add paprika, dried mustard, and nutmeg and allow mixture to come to a simmer and thicken slightly (it should be able to coat the back of a spoon).
  4. Stir in spinach and parmesan. Taste for salt and pepper. Keep mixture warm while you prepare toast and eggs. (If mixture becomes too thick, thin with a little more milk to desired consistency.)
  5. Drizzle sliced bread generously with olive oil and bake or broil until golden brown. Fry eggs to desired doneness, working in batches if needed. (I like mine sunny-side up fried in a little olive oil to create a crisp, lacy edge.)
  6. Serve each toast topped generously with the warm creamed spinach, an egg and a little more salt and pepper. Enjoy!
Notes
Modifications: the creamed spinach portion of this recipe is gluten-free. To make the entire dish gluten-free, just use your favorite gluten-free bread for the toast portion.

Regarding draining/wringing frozen spinach: If you've got one, I've found the simplest way to remove a majority of the liquid from thawed frozen spinach is with a potato ricer (I have this one). It takes about three presses (and maybe 2 mins?) to wring the liquid from one thawed 16 oz bag -- easy!
creamed spinach toasts with fried eggs + fennel (via thepigandquill.com)

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