Eggs florentine

    40 min

    The term ‘florentine’ in a recipe title indicates that the dish uses spinach – in this case, poached eggs on a bed of spinach and leeks, coated with a cheese sauce. This updated version of the classic eggs florentine uses a lighter sauce thickened with cornflour rather than a butter and flour roux. Serve for supper with wholemeal toast.

    5 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 20 g (¾ oz) cornflour
    • 300 ml (10 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
    • 45 g (1 ½ oz) Gruyére cheese, finely grated
    • pinch of grated nutmeg
    • 15 g (½ oz) butter
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 200 g (7 oz) baby leeks, thinly sliced
    • 800 g (1 ¾ Ib) baby spinach leaves
    • 1 tsp vinegar
    • 8 eggs
    • salt and pepper
    • paprika to garnish

    Prep:20min  ›  Cook:20min  ›  Ready in:40min 

    1. First make the sauce. Mix the cornflour to a smooth paste with a little of the milk. Pour the remaining milk into a non-stick saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir the boiling milk into the cornflour mixture, then pour back into the saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring. Once the sauce has thickened, simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the Gruyére, and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Cover the surface of the sauce with a piece of greaseproof paper to prevent a skin from forming and set aside in a warm place.
    2. Heat the butter with the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and cook gently for about 3 minutes, stirring, until beginning to soften. Add the spinach and stir. Cover the pan and continue cooking over a moderate heat for 2–3 minutes or until the spinach has wilted and the leeks are tender. Drain the vegetables in a sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon to remove excess moisture. Return to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.
    3. While the vegetables are cooking, poach the eggs. Half fill a large frying pan with water and bring to simmering point. Add the vinegar. Break in 4 of the eggs, one at a time, and cook gently for 3–4 minutes, spooning the hot water over the yolks towards the end of the cooking time. Lift out the eggs with a draining spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Poach the remaining eggs in the same way.
    4. Preheat the grill to high. Spread the leek and spinach mixture in an even layer in a large flameproof dish. Make 8 hollows in the vegetables using the back of a spoon and place a poached egg in each hollow.
    5. Spoon the cheese sauce over the eggs. Lightly dust with paprika, then place the dish under the grill. Cook for 3–4 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Serve at once.

    Plus points

    Like other animal foods, eggs provide useful amounts of vitamin B12. Free-range eggs tend to contain more than eggs from battery hens. * Spinach is a good source of nutrients with antioxidant properties, including vitamins C and E and carotenoid compounds. * Leeks belong to the onion family. They provide vitamin E, and the green part of the leek is a good source of beta-carotene.

    Another idea

    For bubble and squeak eggs, cook 400 g (14 oz) scrubbed and diced new potatoes in a large pan of boiling water for 7 minutes. Add 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) shredded spring greens to the pan and continue cooking for 4–5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Drain well, then return to the pan and crush together using a potato masher. Add 115 g (4 oz) diced cooked beetroot and carefully fold in. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan with a flameproof handle. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the pan and spread it out evenly, pressing down with the back of a large spoon. Make 8 hollows in the vegetable mixture, then break an egg into each. Grate 55 g (2 oz) Lancashire cheese over the top, being sure to cover the whole surface. Cook under a preheated hot grill for 7–8 minutes or until the eggs are set. Serve hot, with French bread.

    Each serving provides

    A, B12, C, E, folate, calcium * B1, B2, B6, niacin, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc * copper

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