Not eggs florentine

My searches for extra-quick lunches packing not-too-many calories are never-ending. This one is speedy, tasty and very pretty too. I’ve eliminated the messy time-consuming business of hollandaise sauce which genuine eggs florentine require, but upped (I hope) the taste quotient. These quantities are per person.

Spinach – 200 g
Smoked salmon – 1 good-sized slice
Eggs – 2
Milk – 1 tbsp
Olive oil
Soy sauce
Black pepper

Choose very small spinach leaves if possible; whatever size they are, make sure they are very fresh. Wash them carefully to remove any clinging mud then spin them in a salad spinner.

Put a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a wok or large frying pan and drop a few thinly sliced pieces of garlic in to take colour and flavour the oil. If you’re not a big garlic fan, remove the garlic before adding the spinach; I always leave it in. Over a low-to-medium heat, toss the spinach gently in the oil. Depending on how much liquid the spinach runs, you may need to add a little more oil or a drop of water to stop the spinach sticking and catching. The idea is to end up with spinach was has sweated itself into a darker, slightly softer state but which still has a crunch to its stems. I always add a dash of soy sauce to the spinach to give it an extra bite, though this is not strictly necessary. When it’s ready, sit the wok or saucepan at an angle to drain off any liquid that has appeared (you don’t want this is in the final dish) and put a plate over the spinach to keep it warm.

Now to make scrambled eggs, pour a little olive oil into the bottom of a small saucepan. When it has warmed over a low-to-medium heat (don’t let it get too hot or you’ll end up with fried egg), break the eggs into it, stirring (not whipping) them with a fork until they are a swirly mess. Pour the milk in and stir that in too (I have said one tablespoon above, but you may like slightly more than that, or you may prefer to use thin cream). When it’s all mediumly amalgamated, stop stirring and grind in a good quantity of black pepper.

The best implement, I find, for making the perfect scrambled egg is a flat-edged wooden spatula. My method is to let a bottom layer almost-set to a spongy soft omelette consistency then to scape it gently off the bottom (remembering to get right into the corners of the saucepan or else the egg will stick and burn), folding it over to allow a fresh layer of runny egg to take its place but keeping the cooked stuff in reasonably sized blobs. You won’t need to repeat this operation very many times before the whole mess has turned to scrambled egg. Turn the heat off when there’s still a suggestion of runny-ness because the heat of the saucepan will finish off the cooking.

Now, on each plate arrange a layer of spinach leaves, then place the slice of smoked salmon on top. And finally spoon the scrambled eggs in a lump on to the salmon – far more picturesque than I’ve made it sound, and quicker to do than to explain. Depending on how carb-deprived you’re feeling, you may like to serve this with a slice of buttered toast beneath the spinach.

© Anne Hanley, 2013


About Gardens, Food & Umbria

I am a garden designer, working throughout central Italy. I have lived in Italy for over 30 years – for many years in Rome but now in the wilds of Umbria where I have fixed up one wreck of a house, am working on another, and tinker endlessly with two and a half hectares of land, some of which is my garden.
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