Put me on a desert island for a week or a month and the foods I'd want, for sure, would be eggs and greens. (You? What would be on your "food necessity" list? Would eggs be on the list?) For a year now, I've fixed one spinach omelet after another, some times for a solitary supper in a fast 15 minutes, more often as a healthy breakfast for two. Here are my tricks:
EGG BALANCE I reached an easy-to-remember formula, one egg plus one egg white that to my taste, balances yolk-y richness with white-y protein. But the balance is variable to taste, your "happiness" formula might need another yolk (for greater richness) or another white (for more protein).
THE RIGHT PAN I use two pans, both non-stick, a small one for a small one-person omelet and a larger one for a larger two-person omelet. I usually consider our well-seasoned cast iron skillets "non stick" but for omelets, honestly, "real non-stick" works better. We especially love this WearEver Ceramic Skillet for omelets and other breakfast eggs, nothing-but-nothing sticks. (Please note that other users find that the "non stick" on this skillet disappears after a year. We've used ours several times a week for almost a year, no sign of trouble yet.)
SPINACH, FRESH vs FROZEN Fresh spinach works beautifully, it's so tender that once it's cut in a chiffonade (that's thin ribbons of spinach) it cooks in just 30 seconds or so. But frozen spinach is a miracle! And once it's thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid, it keeps in the fridge for a good week, at the ready whenever the whim for an omelet strikes.
COVER An omelet cooks more evenly, without becoming tough or grainy, when the heat is moderate and the skillet is covered – but cracked just a bit to let the condensation escape.
MUSTARD This is life-changing, people! Add a little mustard to your egg mixture! First, the eggs will get nice color. Second, mustard adds this brilliant bit of piquancy that oh! makes all the difference.
RECIPE for EASY-EASY SPINACH OMELET
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 1 - 2
SPINACH OMELET FORMULA
Makes one small omelet. Double the ingredients for a large omelet. Triple the ingredients for one large and one small omelet for one big and one small eater.
1 teaspoon fat (bacon grease, olive oil, ghee, even cooking spray)
Handful spinach (a scant ounce/25 grams), if fresh, cut in ribbons, if frozen, thaw and squeeeeeeeze out excess liquid
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons whole milk (water works too!)
1 teaspoon mustard, any kind
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated cheese
PREP Heat the skillet (without the fat) on medium heat until hot, then add fat just until sizzly. In a bowl, whisk egg and white until completely mixed, then whisk in milk, mustard and salt.
ADD SPINACH & EGGS If using fresh spinach, add directly to the skillet and stir for a few seconds to coat with fat, then pour egg mixture over top. If using frozen spinach, stir thawed and squeezed spinach directly into the egg mixture, pour into skillet. With either fresh or frozen spinach, the eggs should sizzle just a bit when hitting the skillet, if need be, lift and tilt the skillet to evenly spread egg mixture across the surface, then return to the stove. Sprinkle a little pepper and cheese onto eggs.
COVER & COOK Put a lid onto the skillet, letting it vent just a little so that condensation can escape rather than dropping onto the eggs. (Nobody wants a watery omelet!) Let the omelet for about 5 minutes, then peek in.
FOLD OVER Once the omelet's edges firm up, it's time to "fold" the omelet. For a one-egg-one-white omelet, it's easy to use a spatula to gently lift one side and fold it over the other side to form a half circle – if the omelet starts to tear, wait another minute or so before trying again. For a two-egg-two-white omelet (or a three-egg version), the omelet is really too heavy to fold into a half circle, so I always do two folds (as pictured), meeting in the center. It's especially pretty!
COVER & FINISH The omelet isn't quite done, however, you'll still see uncooked egg. So cover the skillet again until the egg mixture firms up.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
MISE EN PLACE [pronounced MEES EN PLOSS, it the French phrase that means "get everything ready before beginning to cook"] It helps to get out the skillet and turn on the heat (without the fat) while prepping the spinach and whisking the eggs. Since most skillets don't "come" with a cover, it helps to poke around your other pots and pans to find a lid that will securely cover the skillet. It needn't be a perfect fit, the one I use actually drops quite low into the skillet but doesn't touch the eggs as they cook.
FAT We nearly always use bacon grease because it's on hand and adds great flavor. But other fats work equally well, including cooking spray. One teaspoon works for both a one-egg-one-white omelet and a two-egg-two-white omelet. Use two teaspoons for a three-egg-three-white omelet.
FRESH SPINACH For fresh spinach, make sure it's thoroughly washed and if you like, remove any extra-tough stems. Then cut into ribbons, just roll up the whole bunch with your fingers, then run a knife through the roll cross-wise. With fresh spinach, you'll add the ribbons to the skillet before the eggs, stir for a few seconds to coat with fat, then pour the egg mixture over top.
FROZEN SPINACH Thaw thoroughly, I usually leave the container in the fridge for 24 hours, then squeeze hard to remove excess liquid. Sorry, there's no skipping either step. With frozen spinach, you'll add the thawed and squeezed (formerly) frozen spinach directly into the egg mixture.
HOW MUCH SPINACH IS IN A BAG OF SPINACH? This one astounded me! When you buy a 16-ounce bag of spinach, don't you expect to get 16 ounces of spinach? Um. NO. Not even close. Once you thaw the spinach and wring out the excess liquid, you're left with only nine to ten ounces of spinach, that's a loss of more than a third to nearly a half! It also makes me question the "value" of frozen spinach.
LEFTOVER EGG YOLKS Yeah, you're going to have some leftover egg yolks. Here are a few recipes that'll help you use them up, egg yolk recipes.
CHEESE Cheese is optional but adds a comforting richness. It doesn't take much, just a tablespoon. Surprisingly, I find that I like grated cheddar, mozzarella, swiss and similar cheeses better than my usual-favorite feta. A good substitute for cheese is a ribbon of salsa down the center. To use so little cheese, it helps to concentrate the cheese either in the center of the omelet or on one half.
PALEO SPINACH OMELET "Paleo" regimens vary so much, but here are a few suggested adaptations. Use a paleo-approved oil such as ghee/clarified butter, grass-fed butter or extra-virgin olive oil. Strict followers avoid all dairy so substitute water for the milk and omit the cheese.
WHOLE30 SPINACH OMELET The Whole30 program prohibits processed oils and dairy. For fat, use ghee/clarified butter (the one dairy that is approved). For milk, substitute water (this actually really works, a good way to save a few calories too). Omit the cheese, if you need a substitute, try a little salsa.
MORE VARIATIONS If you have fresh herbs, chop a few into the spinach, so good! If you have leftover cooked vegetables, toss them onto the eggs with the cheese.
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CREAMY EGGS & "BITTER" SPINACH: ~ Baked Eggs in Cream with Spinach ~
A MAGICAL MARRIAGE
~ Easy Spinach Nests ~
~ Creamed Eggs with Spinach ~
~ more spinach recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing ~
~ Spinach Soup with Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs ~
~ Bacon & Egg Breakfast Bake ~
~ more spinach recipes ~
~ more egg recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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