Even though there are tons of diced potatoes, lots of cheese and a gigantic onion included in the ingredient list for this recipe, I decided to emphasize the spinach and the tomato in the title. I did this for a few reasons. One, the spinach is used in a unique way. It’s formed into nests and cradles the eggs. Two, it’s used as a basket for flavor. I’ll explain what I mean by that below. The reason I placed emphasis on the tomatoes is simple – they play a prominent role and are very visible as the top layer of the dish.
This is another in what promises to be a long list of “skillet” recipes I share on this website. I’m continuing to fall in love with these types of dishes because, really, it’s a good feeling to hold a piece of equipment in my hand that offers such a rich history. My cast iron skillet is also my most versatile. I have a few others, but my Lodge 12″ is the one that lives on my stove top.
I originally found this recipe in my new Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook. It was created by Susan Stockton of the Food Network and Cooking Channel. Although the recipe was very well written, I decided to alter some aspects of it to suit my needs. I’m of the opinion that if I’m going to take the time and effort to cook something, I’m going to do it in such a way that I have food for a few days. Rarely do I follow a recipe to the letter because, oftentimes, the recipe is written to prepare just a few portions. I much more enjoy more than that. Also, I’m finding that ingredient lists simply aren’t large enough in volume. For example, the original recipe I used for this dish calls for 1 small onion. If I used 1 small onion, it would have gotten lost among the other ingredients. It also calls for 2 potatoes. If I used only 2 potatoes, the bottom of my skillet would barely be covered. I adjusted the way I saw fit and I think things came out better for it.
This recipe creates a very filling potato, egg, cheese and spinach skillet breakfast. If you have company over for a winter weekend, this is definitely what you want to prepare for your guests. It’s fairly quick and simple and I think you’ll receive a fair amount of smiles. If you don’t have company and are in more of a situation like Laura and me, where we cook for ourselves, go ahead and prepare this and save the leftovers for a few days. There’s nothing like remembering that you’ve got food that’s already cooked, sitting in the refrigerator.
3 Tablespoons Pure Olive Oil
1 Large Red Onion, Sliced
1 Large Red Bell Pepper, Sliced
6 Medium Sized Potatoes, Cubed
2 Garlic Cloves, Crushed
10 Ounces of Frozen Chopped Spinach, Thawed
White Balsamic Vinegar
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
4 Large Eggs
1 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
3 Ripe Plum Tomatoes, Chopped
I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. If you take a look at the ingredient list above, you’ll most likely see many opportunities for substitution. For instance, I believe the red onion that’s called for in this recipe is used for aesthetics. Feel free to use regular cooking onions or sweet onions. The same is true for the red bell pepper. We all know green bell peppers are less expensive. Sure, they don’t offer as much sweetness, but for the money saved, I’m not sure that matters. Trade around the types of cheese and the way the tomatoes are cut. As long as you stick to properly cooking the ingredients so they all finish evenly, I think you’ll be in good shape.
Go ahead and start off by pre-heating your oven to 375 degrees.
The first thing I did was to dice the potatoes. Since I live in Maine, I bought a 10 pound bag of Yukon Golds. We have plenty of them up here. I found 6 medium sized ones and cut them into 3/4 inch cubes.
The next task I completed was to clean and slice the red bell pepper into semi-thin strips.
After that, I peeled and sliced the red onion. Now, let me tell you something about this red onion. It was huge. Probably the largest one I’ve ever seen. I purchased it because I know how much onions cook down and it’s actually quite difficult for them to take up too much space. Since I recognize that potatoes can absorb flavor, I wanted to give them something to absorb.
Next, I trimmed and sliced the 3 plum tomatoes. I want to fill you in on something here – I was originally going to lay these slices on top of the finished skillet breakfast, but when I did that, I didn’t like the way it looked. I thought that if they were, perhaps, diced instead, there would be more even coverage. Because of this, at the last minute, I pulled the tomatoes off and diced them. Below is merely the photo of what I had before I did that.
Also, the reason I chose to go with plum tomatoes was because of their firmness on the interior. I didn’t want to have a loose, difficult to dice, middle, so I went with what I knew – which was a tomato with fewer seeds, therefore fewer loose areas on the inside.
Finally, I peeled and crushed the 2 cloves of garlic.
On a large baking sheet, go ahead and spread 1 tablespoon of pure olive oil. Then, add the diced potatoes to the tray and arrange evenly. After that, place them on the center rack of the warm oven and bake for about 30 minutes. The goal here is to soften the potatoes and prepare them for later use.
Cook Onion & Pepper
When the potatoes are about 5 minutes away from being finished, go ahead and warm up the 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat on your stove top, along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Swirl the olive oil around so it coats high up the sides of the skillet. Then, add all the sliced red onion and the sliced red bell pepper and cook, while stirring, until the ingredients have semi-softened. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
When the potatoes are finished in the oven and have softened up (with golden brown bottoms), go ahead and add them to the skillet and cook, while stirring, on the stove top for another 5 minutes.
Make Spinach Nests
After the 5 minutes have passed, move the current ingredients in the skillet around so you have 4 indents. Then, divide the thawed spinach into 4 equal parts. Before adding each part to the skillet, be sure to squeeze the water out of it over a sink with your hand. When ready, spread each part of spinach into each indent. Basically, these areas are where the eggs are going to sit, so be sure they’re large enough for that amount of volume.
After the spinach has been added to the skillet, sprinkle some white balsamic vinegar over each area. This is what I was referring to above when I mentioned the “basket of flavor.” By adding the vinegar to the spinach, you truly bring out some taste.
Add Eggs to Spinach
Now that the nests have been formed and some vinegar has been added, go ahead and crack each of the 4 eggs open and add to each nest. After that, season with some regular table salt and ground black pepper.
Place Skillet in Oven
Once everything is situated, go ahead and place the cast iron skillet into the oven on the same center rack the potatoes were on. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the eggs turn white and set.
Add Cheese & Tomatoes
After the skillet has been in the oven for 10 minutes and the eggs have set, remove it and add the 1 cup of shredded monterey jack cheese along with the 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. I made sure to keep the cheese away from the eggs, just to keep some flavor distinction.
Place the skillet back in the oven for another 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt into the other ingredients. Finally, when the skillet comes out of the oven, sprinkle the chopped tomatoes over everything.
The Final Dish
I’m going to add this recipe to my list of successes. I’m very pleased with it. It’s hearty enough for just about anyone, looks good and tastes very pleasant. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
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