Eggs Florentine

Uova alla fiorentina, Bugialli’s Original Eggs Florentine

In secondi piatti, Toscana by Frank21 Comments

Delicious as it may be, the dish known in most of the world as Eggs Florentine —eggs sitting on a bed of spinach braised in butter, topped with mornay sauce and shirred in a hot oven— is, in fact, not Italian but a French invention. Some say it was invented by the venerable G.A. Escoffier. (If you care to look it up, it’s Recipe No. 400 in the Guide Culinaire.) As many of you probably know, the term “Florentine” is commonly used in French cuisine to denote a dish in which spinach features.

The original Eggs Florentine, or Uova alla fiorentina, is rather another thing according to Florentine  food historian and cookbook author Giuliano Bugialli. As befits Tuscan cooking, it’s rather simpler (and less creamy) than Escoffier’s dish, but very satisfying: nothing more than eggs poached or shirred on a bed of spinach sautéed in garlic and olive oil, in the in padella style we’ve featured so often before.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 500g (1 lb) spinach, trimmed of its stems and well washed
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-6 eggs

Directions

Prepare and sauté the spinach in garlic and olive oil in a large braising pan, following the recipe for spinaci ripassati in padella

After the spinach has sautéed for a minute or two, make little wells in the spinach and gingerly drop an egg into each well. Cover the cover the pan and let the eggs cook over very gentle heat until done to your liking—if you’re like me, until the whites are just cooked and the yolk still runny.

Serve immediately, with some crusty bread and some crisp white wine.

Eggs Florentine

Notes on Eggs Florentine

For a more elegant alternative, as pictured in this post, you can serve your Eggs Florentine in individually baked ramekins. Oil the bottom of each ramekin, prepare a bed of sautéed spinach in each, leaving a little well in the middle of each one. Then drop one egg into the middle of each ramekin. Bake in a hot 200C/400F oven until the eggs are done to your liking.

This is a great dish for weekday evenings when you don’t have time to spare, as it only takes about 20 minutes to make.

According to one fellow food blogger from Tuscany, Giulia Scarpaleggia from Juls’ Kitchen, Eggs Florentine is simply a French invention, full stop, with nothing to do with Florence at all. I’m not in a position to arbitrate its authenticity, but I can recommend this dish as a delicious and lighter alternative to the brunch dish we all know.

Uova alla fiorentina (Real Eggs Florentine)

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Uova alla fiorentina (Real Eggs Florentine)

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb) spinach, trimmed of its stems and well washed
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-6 eggs

Directions

  1. Prepare and sauté the spinach in garlic and olive oil in a large braising pan, following the recipe for spinaci ripassati in padella.
  2. After the spinach has sautéed for a minute or two, make little wells in the spinach and gingerly drop an egg into each well. Cover the cover the pan and let the eggs cook over very gentle heat until done to your liking—if you're like me, until the whites are just cooked and the yolk still runny.
  3. Serve immediately, with some crusty bread and some crisp white wine.

Notes

For a more elegant alternative, as pictured in this post, you can serve your Eggs Florentine in individually baked ramekins. Oil the bottom of each ramekin, prepare a bed of sautéed spinach in each, leaving a little well in the middle of each one. Then drop one egg into the middle of each ramekin. Bake in a hot 200C/400F oven until the eggs are done to your liking.

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Comments

  1. Pingback: Calamari in zimino (Squid Braised in Greens) | Memorie di Angelina

  2. I make a version of this dish with chard or a mix of chard and kale from my garden. I had to smile when I read “coste”: it’s such a Milanese term, one of those that confused me when I moved from Perugia to Milan (together with bistecca, cornetti, bologna, etc.). And we are on the same page in terms of yolk: runny, please.

    1. Author

      Definitely runny! I love letting that golden yolk ooze into the rest of the ingredients, or better yet, dipping into it with a nice piece of bread…

  3. Eggs florentine are my husband’s favourite way of eating eggs, so I’ll have to show him this. I just assumed they were Italian and that there weren’t two version. Thanks for educating us, Frank!

  4. just out of curiosity I checked some of my Italian books. Artusi, Ada Boni’s Talismano, Olindo Guerini (contemporary of Artusi, good read), Anna Gosetti, a slowfood book on the food of Florence, Molinari Pradelli, Santini: no one mentions the egg & spinach combo, under “Tuscany” . They are mentioned though in Paolo Petroni’s Il Grande Libro della Cucina Toscana. I do not have Righi Parenti, but it would be interesting to know he features them.
    I wonder where Bugialli got his version. Even if I am a mix of North/South Italy, I come from Milano: as a kid a standard supper dish was “uova con le coste”, fried eggs with chards, with butter and parmesan, which even my non-cook milanese mum could not destroy 🙂
    ciao, stefano

    1. Author

      Not really sure about Bugialli’s sources, other than himself, of course. After maintaining that the usual recipe is “a completely French dish” and that “I have never come across the sautéing of spinach in butter in the Florence of either the past or the present” he says only this: “The following is a dish that is widely used in Florence and is possibly the authentic eggs Florentine”. An interesting side note: Artusi mentions in his recipe for uova affogate (No. 104) that he “has seen” eggs served over a bed of puréed potatoes or spinach sautéed in butter.

      But anyway, I do like the sound of uova con le coste—and I have some chard in the fridge at the moment, although I was planning on making pizzocheri with them, following your recent recipe. Decisions, decisions…

  5. I’ve never had Eggs Florentine (either recipe), but I would definitely prepare the proper way (your recipe) more! As usual, minimal ingredients, simple and therefore with good ingredients: delicious! Grazie!

  6. Frank, this was a typical lunch dish for us during Lent especially on meatless Fridays!

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