Saturday, March 10, 2018


Where I live in southern Spain, spinach grows through mild winter months and is harvested in early spring. So I’m enjoying it in many different ways (see links to recipes at the end of this post). Today it’s eggs baked in “nests” of spinach.

So green and fresh, spinach is a delight in early spring.

Spinach is so deceptive. It looks like lots and lots, then cooks down to nothing. Even knowing this, I miscalculated. I figured a pound of spinach leaves—a heap—would be enough for four half-cup servings. It made only enough for three servings. I’ve adjusted the recipe to serve four.

The “nesting eggs” are best prepared in individual ramekins, but they can also be baked in a single oven pan, then scooped out to serve at table. If using earthenware cazuelitas, remember that clay holds the heat, so the eggs will continue to cook after you remove them from the oven.

Ready for the oven. Cooked spinach makes a nest. Egg is dropped in the center. Grated cheese on top. The white ramekin is enameled metal; the other two are earthenware.

Strips of fried bread are a favorite accompaniment, but toast or fried potatoes are good too. Serve the eggs and spinach for brunch, as a starter for a spring dinner or as a light supper dish.

You can use bunches of fresh spinach or bags of washed, ready to use leaves. Spinach you wash will cook with the water clinging to it, but dry, bagged leaves will need a little extra water to cook. If you choose to use the optional chopped ham, you may not need additional salt. Taste before seasoning. Use regular or smoked pimentón (paprika) for the dash of finishing color on top of the eggs. I like smoked picante—spicy-hot—pimentón on the eggs. 

Ready to bake. Remember that clay ramekins hold the heat, so the egg will continue to cook after removing it from the oven.

After baking, white is set, yolk still runny, cheese is melted.

Serve the baked egg and spinach for brunch, as a starter or a light meal. Tirangles of bread fried in olive oil are a good accompaniment.

Just right--yolk is still runny. Will you dip the fried bread in the egg? Or mix it all up with the spinach?

Eggs Baked in Spinach Nests
Huevos al Nido con Espinacas

Serves 4.

1 ½ pounds spinach (to make 16 cups chopped)
¼ cup olive oil plus additional for oiling and drizzling
¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ cup (1 ounce) chopped serrano ham (optional)
Water, as needed
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated fresh nutmeg
4 large eggs
¼ cup grated cheese
Pimentón (paprika), smoked or plain
Fried bread, toast or fried potatoes, to serve

To chop: roll spinach and slice it.

Wash the spinach, if necessary, and trim away stems. Chop or shred the spinach.

Heat the oil in a deep pan. Sauté the chopped onion on medium heat until softened, but not browned, 4 minutes. Add the ham, if using, and sautée 1 minute. Add all of the chopped spinach. Stir to mix with the onion. Add a little water, if necessary. Cook the spinach until wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. If there is liquid remaining in the pan, raise the heat to cook it off. 

Spinach fills a deep pan, but will cook down a lot.

Preheat oven to 400ºF/ 200ºC. Lightly oil 4 oven-safe ramekins or custard cups. Place them on an oven tray.

Divide the spinach into four portions. Press each into a lightly oiled cup. Invert it into the ramekin. Push open a hole in the center of the mound of spinach, widening it enough to contain a whole egg. Make sure there are no breaks in the rims of the spinach ring, so egg white cannot seep out. 

Break an egg into a cup and carefully slip it into the hole in the center of the spinach ring. Drizzle a little olive oil over eggs and spinach. Spread grated cheese on the tops and sprinkle them with pimentón.

Bake until the whites are set, but yolks still runny, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with fried bread.

A breath of spring--eggs, spinach and freesias.

More recipes with spinach:


  1. I might try this tomorrow, but with frozen chopped spinach. I'm sure it won't be as good, but it'll be quick!

    1. David: Frozen spinach is always an option. I didn't mention because I had not tested with frozen spinach, so I had no idea how much to use. Let us know how yours turns out!

  2. I used some leftover steak instead of ham. It was great, although I should have added some more paprika.

  3. I did with sausage, rather than ham, Janet. My spinach wilted more speedily than 10 minutes. But in any case, perfect for a cold winter’s supper.

    1. JohnD: Sausage is good. Or, chopped bacon would work in place of ham.