Baked Egg Breakfast Tarts: Buttery, puff pastry tarts filled with everything we love at brunch; creamy spinach, bacon, cheddar cheese and eggs. This is a real breakfast special.
Well, I don’t know about you but so far my spring has been…less than stellar. Not to bore you with the details but I’ve been pretty much out of commission for the last few weeks with shingles. If you’ve ever had them, you know that the majority of your day is spent sitting stock-still so absolutely nothing touches you (when what you really want to do is raise your fists up to the sky and scream “Why God, why!” at the top of your lungs). I’ll just say that if, next time (please, please let there not be a next time), I’m given a choice between wearing a helmet of bees and having shingles again, I’m going with the bees.
This is my long-winded explanation for the lack of posts recently, because honestly, cooking and photographing were just not happening around the ol’ Clifton place of late.
But the weather has turned warm and I’m not writhing in pain anymore so, for my triumphant come-back, I wanted to post something really special.
The idea for some kind of spinach-y, cheese-y and egg-y tart or pie had been kicking around my noodle for awhile and over the weekend I realized we had all the ingredients I thought would work on hand so I decided to give it a whirl.
I’m calling it a “breakfast tart” because of the bacon and egg components but we had them for dinner (and then for lunch the next day) and they were perfect. They’re really easy to make and would be great for a brunch party. You could easily customize them for the crowd (no bacon on one, mushrooms on another, etc).
NOTE: In this version, I actually used my favorite spring ingredient of all time, ramps, in place of the onions and garlic, but because they’re only available for a tiny short window, I’m writing the recipe without them. If you’re lucky enough to have some, by all means, roughly chop and sauté about a half pound of them (white and green parts) just like you would the onions and add them to the spinach.
- While I used spinach, ramps and cheddar for these, they would work really well with mushrooms and gruyere.
- I love fresh spinach but to get a full pound you need 3 of those large boxes so I ended up mixing fresh and frozen.
- My all-time favorite puff pastry is a brand called Dafour but it’s hard to find (and pricy) so use whatever kind you like.
- Be CAREFUL when you push in the middle of the hot pastry. It lets out steam and can burn your fingers (yup, I burnt mine).
- 8 squares of puff pastry (1 box divided into 8 pieces)
- 8 eggs
- 1 lb baby spinach (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 small garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ - ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup sharp white cheddar, grated (Gruyere is a great substitute)
- 6 - 8 slices of bacon (optional)
- Roasted cherry tomatoes for garnish (optional)
- Pre heat the oven to 400F.
- Cut the puff pastry into 4 squares and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. With a butter knife, score a 1 inch rim inside the square, cutting about half way through the pastry and bake for 10-12 minutes until puffed up and lightly golden brown.
- Lower oven temperature to 325F
- If using, fry the bacon in a pan until crispy, drain and set aside.
- FOR FRESH SPINACH: Bring ½ inch water to a boil in a large skillet, then add half of spinach and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted, about 30 seconds. Add remaining spinach and wilt in the same way, then cook, covered, over moderately high heat until spinach is tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and cool under cold running water. Gently squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then coarsely chop. FOR FROZEN SPINACH: Defrost in microwave, run under cool water and squeeze as much liquid out as possible, then coarsely chop.
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook onion and garlic until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach back in and stir in enough cream to coat the spinach lightly (frozen will soak up a bit more because it’s drier), season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the cream reduces and there’s not much liquid left (2-3 minutes). Remove skillet from heat.
- Remove pastry from the oven and, using a spoon, push down the inner cavity carefully so that you create a raised rim with the sides of the pastry (be careful of the steam the hot pastry will let out). Arrange the spinach on the bottom and around the sides leaving a slight well in the center. Top with the grated cheese, and if using, place the crumbled bacon around the edge. Break an egg into a small ramekin and gently slide it into the middle of the well, repeating with each tart. Return to the oven and bake for a further 10 - 15 minutes until the eggs are just set but yolks are still slightly runny.
- FOR ROASTED TOMATOES: Place tomatoes on a baking tray and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with course kosher salt and pepper and roast at 400F for 10-12 minutes, until the skin just blisters and splits. Set aside.