With the holidays come holiday guests, and the challenge of making breakfast for a crowd. We make this easy by drawing on Mediterranean traditions for baked eggs. Even after the meal has cooled, it remains delicious for those coming to the table a bit later.
In this recipe from our book “Tuesday Nights Mediterranean,” which features weeknight-friendly meals from the region, we take inspiration from a frittata-like dish from “At Elizabeth David’s Table,” by Elizabeth David. She calls the preparation a “tian,” a French Provençal term that refers to a shallow round earthenware vessel, as well as the dishes baked in it.
In our version, we cook potatoes and wilt spinach on the stovetop but combine them with eggs, Parmesan, basil, garlic and pine nuts to bake in the oven. It’s something like a crustless quiche, but with only a ¼ cup heavy cream and no butter, it’s not nearly as heavy; crushed red pepper helps to balance the richness.
Though the recipe calls for a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate, you can double the quantities and use a 13-by-9-inch baking dish (make sure the dish is 3 inches deep). To check for doneness, gently shake the pie plate or baking dish. The center of the eggs should be firmly set, not jiggly.
Don’t allow the potatoes and spinach to cool completely before adding the eggs. Their heat helps jump-start the cooking process for slightly faster baking.
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
8 large eggs
¼ cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
10 to 12 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5-ounce container baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup pine nuts
Heat the oven to 375° F with a rack in the middle position. Brush a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate with 1 tablespoon of oil. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, nutmeg, two-thirds of the Parmesan, two-thirds of the basil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper; set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet, combine the potatoes, 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then reduce to medium, cover and simmer until a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain in a colander, then transfer to the prepared pie plate.
Wipe out the skillet and set it over medium. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the garlic, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and pepper flakes. Cook, tossing and stirring with tongs, until the spinach is wilted and most of the liquid it has released evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes.
Scatter the spinach mixture over the potatoes in the pie plate, then slowly pour in the egg mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the pine nuts. Bake until the sides have risen and the center of the eggs does not jiggle when the pie plate is gently shaken, 20 to 25 minutes. Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with the remaining basil.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap
Christopher Kimball, The Associated Press