Three kinds of leafy greens combine with mushrooms, garlic, leeks, mustard, and spices to form the base for a baked egg dish that’s a bit like an omelette turned inside out. It’s an ideal recipe for brunch, or really any meal of the day.
Sometimes we want to start the day with an omelette: maybe cook up some chopped leafy greens, sauté a few mushrooms until they’re golden, throw in a handful of cheese, and enclose the whole thing in an egg jacket. And sometimes, we want to flip the whole concept inside out and bake the eggs right on top of the other ingredients, because, you know, we’re mavericks like that.
It does take a little longer than the omelette method, and it requires turning on the oven. But really, since we’re fully cooking the greens and mushrooms either way, it’s the difference between a couple of minutes standing at the range and 20 minutes of unattended baking. You can also cook the creamed greens ahead, and bake the eggs when you’re ready for eat.
Our chickens are laying again after their winter pause, and the kitchen counter is starting to fill up with stacks of egg boxes. Whenever we can think up new ways to use up their daily produce, it’s a win. And for this recipe, the eggs form the crowning layer (pun intended) of a hearty dish packed with greens and creaminess.
You might think three different types of greens is excessive but we’re here to tell you it’s worth the trouble of putting together an assortment. The spinach leaves cook down the most, followed by the chard leaves, and the kale usually holds its structure a little more, so you end up with a range of textures instead of one homogenous creamed mass. Once they’re cooked down and chilled in an ice bath, don’t be afraid to really give them a good squeeze with your hands to expel as much water as you can: you don’t want your baked dish to get soggy.
We continue the process by giving the mushrooms a good browning (nerd tip: don’t move them around in the pan), and then remove them to cook the leeks. This fourth “green” element is used as a flavoring, lending its mild oniony taste to the leafy greens. Sliced shallots or onions, if cooked until fully softened, are fine stand-ins.
To make the creamy sauce, we build what is essentially a béchamel right on top of the sautéed leeks, first sprinkling flour into the pot, then adding some half and half and milk. We punch up the flavor with a small amount of white wine, mustard, and spices, and then fold the greens back into that mixture. You’ll be able to see whether the sauce needs any adjustments for consistency—if it’s too thick, just add enough milk or water to thin it slightly. Then it’s time to fill a baking dish (or smaller individual baking dishes, if you prefer) with the creamy greens and some Gruyère cheese, making little wells where you want your eggs to go.
You don’t want to bake the eggs too far – think over easy – since part of the appeal of the dish is that you can break open the yolk and mix it up with the greens. We didn’t even open the silverware drawer, opting instead to flavor some slices of crusty toasted bread with garlic, butter them generously, and use them as dipping implements – just as nature intended!
- Coarse kosher salt
- 1 large bunch lacinato kale, tough stems removed, leaves roughly chopped (about 6 ounces; 180g after stemming)
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard, tough stems removed, leaves roughly chopped (about 7 ounces; 200g after stemming)
- 5 ounces (140g) baby spinach
- 3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, divided
- 8 ounces (225g) button or cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and caps sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well and thinly sliced (about 9 ounces; 250g total)
- 3 medium cloves garlic, 2 minced or grated and 1 left whole for toast, divided
- 2 tablespoons (45g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (235ml) half and half
- ½ cup (120ml) milk
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) dry white wine
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) Dijon mustard
- ¾ cup grated Gruyère cheese (2½ ounces; 75g)
- 4 to 6 large eggs
- Pinch of red chili flakes, for garnish
- 4 to 6 slices toasted and buttered bread, such as from a baguette
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches if necessary, add kale, chard, and spinach to pot and cook for 1 minute. Using a spider or strainer, lift greens from water and transfer to a colander. Immediately run under cold water to stop the cooking. Repeat with remaining greens if necessary. Using your hands, squeeze greens to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Roughly chop greens and set aside. You should have about 10½ ounces (300g) of cooked, squeezed greens.
- In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon (15g) butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring only occasionally, until well browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a plate.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons (30g) butter to skillet and melt over medium-high heat until foaming. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned. Stir in minced garlic and cook 30 seconds. Sprinkle flour over leeks and cook, stirring, until raw flour smell has cooked off, about 1 minute. Stir in half and half and milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in wine, nutmeg, mustard, reserved mushrooms, and reserved greens and return to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Remove skillet from heat. If mixture is very thick, add a bit more water or milk to thin slightly (this will depend on how much water you squeezed out of the greens). You should have about 4 cups of creamed greens.
- If baking in the same skillet, sprinkle Gruyère on top of greens. (You can also divide greens into smaller individual skillets or baking dishes.) If using a baking dish, scrape creamy greens into it, smooth into an even layer, and sprinkle Gruyère on top.
- Using a spoon, make egg-sized indentations in greens, one for each egg. Crack an egg into each well and season with salt. Bake until egg whites are just set and yolks are still runny, 10 to 20 minutes. Check eggs frequently to make sure they don’t overcook. Remove from oven and sprinkle a pinch of red chili flakes over each egg.
- While toast is still warm, gently rub one side of each slice with remaining clove of garlic. Serve, using toast to scoop up greens and eggs.