Chelo doesn’t cook real often, but when she does, you better be there. One of my favorites is her “Nidos de Espinacas.” I beg her to make it for me every time I’m there. This time she said “OK, but you’re never gonna learn unless you do it yourself — so I’ll direct and you’ll do the work.” So here you go. Give it a try. If you love spinach, you’ll love this dish!
Chelo’s Nidos de Espinacas
2 Garlic cloves – smash and keep skin on
1/2 C Blend of Emmental & Parmesan Cheese (or blend of your choice)
3 Tbs Olive oil (cooking quality)
1/4 C Butter
1/4 – 1/2 tsp fresh ground Nutmeg
1/3 Lb Bacon cubed in 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 to 1 C Heavy cooking cream or smooth (not too thick) plain Yogurt
1 Egg per person
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Approx 2 lbs Spinach. If using fresh spinach, steam or cook without spices or other flavorings. Drain well and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Chop fine. If using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out water. Chop fine.
In large, heavy pot put butter and olive oil over low heat. Melt butter, add whole, smashed garlic cloves and sauté briefly. Add cubed bacon and continue to sauté until bacon is cooked thru but not browned. Remove garlic and discard. Turn off heat and remove pot from fire so spinach doesn’t stick. Put spinach in pot with bacon and mix very well to combine oils, bacon, and spinach. Put back on low heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/2 cheese and continue to stir to blend well. Add garlic powder and fresh nutmeg (don’t be shy with the nutmeg – adjust all spices to taste). Add cream or yogurt and thin with a little milk if needed. Continue to cook over low heat to blend all. Mixture should be smooth and creamy — not watery, and not too dry. With a wooden spoon or spatula, smooth the top of the spinach mixture so top is fairly flat. Now comes the fun part.
Separate the eggs. [From this point on, do not stir the pot! Cook over low heat. You may get some minor sticking, but that’s OK!] Put egg whites directly on top of spinach mixture (don’t beat or mix, pour directly onto spinach). Keep the egg yolk in the eggshell and prop up somewhere and set aside. Continue until you have an egg yolk set aside for each person, and egg whites are all on top of spinach. Cover the pot and allow to cook slowly until egg whites begin to turn white. Cover with remaining cheese. Be sure there is a good thin layer of cheese covering the top. Cover and continue to cook on low. In the meantime, open a bottle of wine (see suggestions below). When egg whites are nearly done (nearly all white), make a small well in the spinach for each person you’re serving – you can usually get about 4 – 5 eggs in this recipe. Less is fine. Carefully pour the yolks into the wells. Cover the pot and cook briefly until the yolks are the consistency you like. Using 2 spatulas, gently work around each egg and place the serving on each person’s plate. Goes great with a simple salad.
Hint: If you’re serving fewer people, don’t cook more eggs than you can use right now. Reserve the spinach mixture and add a fresh egg as described, and you have great leftovers.
Wine suggestions: Red: If you can find a young, fruity tempranillo or garnacha, that might work. Needs to be pretty light, though. White: Verdejo or Moscato (careful that the Moscato is not too sweet) Rose: Look for something that’s made with Garnacha grapes. Fruity, not too sweet.