Breakfast Crostini with Poached Egg, Wilted Spinach, and Bacon
Instead of sharing a soup recipe this weekend, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite breakfast dishes.
We usually have some sort of egg dish on the weekend for breakfast…actually, that’s how the name of my blog came about! Our “eggs on sunday” dishes take different forms — when B makes our eggs, they’re usually scrambled with some chopped vegetables and cheese. Yum. When I make the eggs, I tend to gravitate towards poached or baked eggs…I really love an egg with the just-set whites and a sunny yellow oozy yolk…mmm, just thinking about it makes my mouth water!
I adore poached eggs. I go through phases when I really crave them and think up different ways to eat them (other than for breakfast): I’ll slip one on top of pasta, the yolk creating a creamy sauce over the noodles. I’ll serve some over a slice of a Mexican-style tortilla pie with cheese, salsa and black beans. They’re heavenly over roasted asparagus, with a little Parmesan grated on top. And, in a time crunch, I think they’re just plain delicious served simply over some whole-grain toast, sprinkled with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
When I have a little more time to spend on them, one of my favorite ways to eat them is this breakfast crostini: a thick slice of crusty toasted bread rubbed with garlic-herb olive oil, topped with two slices of bacon, some sauteed spinach, a poached egg, and shaved Parmesan cheese. I love the contrast of the crunchy bread with the creamy poached egg, and how the yolk makes a little sauce with the cheese for the spinach. It’s a perfect dish for a weekend breakfast (or for dinner, too — we’ve done both!) And, if you’d rather make it vegetarian, it’s equally good without the bacon (poached eggs love spinach!)
I found the original recipe on Epicurious, but after making it many times, I think I’ve streamlined the process a bit from what the original described. I don’t bother carving a hole in a cube of bread for the spinach, bacon and egg to sit in – I like it better piled on top. Rather than using a whole cup of oil for 4 slices of bread, I find that one tablespoon per slice is plenty. And I bake the bacon and bread at the same time in the oven, to save time and one skillet.
So if you find yourself craving some “eggs on Sunday” (and don’t want to eat my blog), give this crostini a shot — if you love poached eggs like I do, I think you’ll enjoy it!
Breakfast Crostini with Poached Egg, Wilted Spinach and Bacon
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2006
Ingredients (for 2 servings)
2 slices of crusty bread – ciabatta, sourdough, multigrain, etc. Whatever you like.
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of crushed red pepper
2 tsp minced fresh herbs, such as chives, oregano, parsley, and/or thyme – again, whatever you have/like.
4 thick slices of bacon
1 small shallot, minced
2 big handfuls of baby spinach (about 3 cups), rinsed
2 large eggs
1 tbsp white or rice vinegar
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
shavings of Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425. Prep all your ingredients before you start — this will help the actual cooking go faster.
Place a baking rack (like a metal cooling rack) on a sheet pan and place the slices of bacon in a single layer across the rack. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon has browned.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat with the garlic, crushed red pepper, and herbs until the garlic starts to sizzle. Saute the garlic and herbs briefly (about 30 seconds), then turn off the heat and let them steep in the oil for about 10 minutes (you can do this while the bacon is baking.) Place the two slices of bread on a sheet pan and brush them on top with this oil, then bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown around the edges. I usually prepare the oil and brush the bread during the first 10 minutes the bacon is baking, then place the baking sheet with the bread on the other rack in the oven for the last 5-10 minutes of bacon cooking time.
While the bread and bacon are in the oven, heat a little oil (about 2 tsp) in a skillet and saute the chopped shallot over medium-high heat until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rinsed spinach along with a generous pinch of coarse salt and ground black pepper, and saute just until the spinach is bright green and wilted, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat on the skillet and set aside.
When the bacon is done baking, carefully take the sheet pan out of the oven (the grease on the pan will be hot) and set it on a cooling pad. Place the bacon on a plate lined with some paper towels for a few minutes, just to drain off any excess grease.
Take the toasted bread out of the oven, but keep it on the baking sheet. Turn off the oven — now you’ll assemble the crostini and place them back in the oven while you poach the eggs, and they’ll stay warm with the residual heat.
To assemble the crostini, lay two slices of bacon across each slice of bread in a criss-cross pattern. Using a slotted spoon, divide the sauteed spinach between the two crostini, on top of the bacon. Place the baking sheet with these crostini back in the oven to keep warm.
To poach the eggs, fill a skillet with 2-3 inches of water and the teaspoon of vinegar. Bring to a simmer, covered. While it’s coming to a simmer, crack each egg into a little heatproof cup, making sure the yolk stays intact. When the water has reached a simmer, turn down the heat so it’s just barely bubbling and lower each egg into the water, one at a time. I usually carefully tip the cup to the side, so the water comes in the cup and displaces the egg. Simmer the eggs, uncovered (keep the water so it’s just barely bubbling), for about 3 minutes.
During the last minute the eggs are cooking, take the crostini out of the oven and place each one on a plate. When the eggs are done cooking, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and carefully place them on top of the spinach. Top with more coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, and the Parmesan cheese shavings.