Eggs with Sauteed Mushrooms, Spinach, and Taleggio
By The Experimenta... on March 13, 2011
In my post about some of the delicious meals I had during my trip to London a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I'd eaten at GAIL's, a newish mini-chain of artisan bread shops and cafés, one of which was located not all that far from where I was staying in West London. The day I landed, I stopped in for a second breakfast (or mid-morning snack, depending upon your point of view) of coffee and a pastry just to keep me going and to try to get my body on the local time zone. I spotted another customer's meal of fluffy scrambled eggs, mushrooms, bechamel sauce, and a croissant and vowed I'd come back there to eat a real breakfast before my trip was over.
Several days later, as I transited back through London before I headed back to New York, I made good on that promise to myself. The menu had changed, as they had just done a revamp while I was away, the chef who plans the items for the Notting Hill branch told me, so I couldn't sample the dish I'd seen on my first trip. No matter, however, as I was able to try their hearty and delicious Fried Eggs with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Taleggio. The beautiful, orange egg yolks perfectly encased in their whites lying lovingly on a bed of mushrooms, spinach, and cheese served with two thick slabs of buttered whole grain toast from their bakery made this a meal to send jet lag scurrying off on its merry way. (I also decided at that moment that this would also make a great weeknight supper, as well.)
While savoring each bite of my breakfast, I knew that I needed to figure out how to make this dish when I got back home. This is the perfect thing to serve as a brunch for one person or for several people, as it is easy to scale up or down. High-quality, artisan-made bread and the freshest eggs you can find are the keys to carrying off this dish. I was able to get a loaf of Orwasher's whole grain bread at the Foodshed Market and some gorgeous eggs from the Greenmarket. The robust texture and flavor of the bread really balances out the ooziness of the cheese studded with thyme-and-garlic scented woodsy mushrooms and earthy spinach. I made a fried egg for my breakfast plate, but a poached egg would work well, too, as it's the contrast of the clean-tasting white and the richness of the yolk that add the perfect texture to the dish.
Eggs with Sautéed Mushrooms, Spinach, and Taleggio
Serving Size: 4 people (can be scaled up or down)
Prep Time: less than 30 minutes
2 tsp. unsalted butter
3 tsp. canola oil (or other neutral oil)
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 large sprig fresh thyme
2 c. sliced Cremini mushrooms (baby Portobellos)
4 c. baby spinach leaves or large spinach leaves cut smaller
1/4 lb. Taleggio cheese, rind removed and cut into thick slices
4 eggs, the freshest you can find
4 slices of thick, artisan, whole-grain bread
Butter for spreading on toasted bread
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. In non-stick skillet, melt butter along with one tsp. of the oil. Add the garlic and thyme sprig and cook for about 30 seconds to release the scent of the garlic and perfume of the herbs. Toss in mushrooms and stir to coat in the oil and cook until the they begin to brown slightly, about 2 minutes. Make sure that you are using a large enough pan so that the mushrooms are not crowded together, otherwise they will just release water and steam instead of sautéeing.
Remove the mushrooms from the stove and put on a plate. Put the spinach in the pan and cook over the lowest heat possible until the leaves are soft and wilted, about 1 minute at the very most but likely about 30 seconds. (I used the residual heat in the pan from cooking the mushrooms.) Remove the spinach from the pan and put on the same plate as the mushrooms.
In an oven-proof pan (or if your skillet can go in the oven, use the same pan), place the spinach and mushrooms in one layer. Remove the thyme sprigs, pulling off some of the leaves to add to the vegetables. Layer slices of the Taleggio over top of the mushrooms and spinach and place in the oven to melt the cheese.
In the meantime, prepare the eggs. If you are going to poach them, you might want to follow my guide here. If frying them, place the remaining 2 tsp. of oil in a skillet and let it heat for 15 seconds. Carefully place the eggs into the skillet so that you have yolk surrounded by white. Fry eggs several minutes until the white is completely cooked and the yolk is beginning to set (you can cook a little longer if you like your yolk a bit more custardy, as I do, just take care not to overcook the white).
Just before the eggs are finished cooking, put the bread in the toaster. Check on the vegetables to make sure the cheese has melted. Remove that pan from the oven and place 1/4 of the mushrooms, spinach, and Taleggio mixture on each of 4 plates. Put an egg on each of the plates, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and serve with buttered toast. Enjoy!