Start the Day with Spinach and Kale

Spinach, ham, cheese, and a nice runny egg on top of an English muffin for breakfast.

Spinach, ham, cheese, and a nice runny egg on top of an English muffin for breakfast.

Oh, no, are we trending into “eat-your-vegetables-they’re-good-for-you territory?” Well, yes. But this stuff actually tastes good, too. I simply do not belong to the “hold-your-nose-and-eat-it” school of thought. And since I grow so much spinach and kale I need to find new ways of using it, because one can eat just so much at dinner or lunch.

I think kale and spinach are both wonderful with eggs. We’ve already presented you with Eggs Florentine (eggs cooked on top of spinach) and various frittatas, which are essentially eggs gluing together piles of vegetables. Here are more ideas.

Spinach or kale with ham, cheese, and egg is lovely on an English muffin. If I weren’t so lazy, I’d take the next logical step and we would have Eggs Benedict. Instead of making hollandaise sauce—though if you like doing that, don’t let me stop you—I cook the eggs just until the whites are done and the yolks a little runny so that they turn into a sauce when someone sticks a fork into them. If you are a poacher of eggs, you could do that, but, again, I am too lazy to fiddle around with water and vinegar, and taking eggs for a swim. I merely do eggs over easy.

For vegetarians, or if you simply just don’t feel like eating some kind of breakfast meat, please know that these are fine without ham. On the other hand, substitute bacon or pancetta for ham. Use more or less kale or spinach—just soften the leaves a bit with a little finely chopped shallot or onion before tucking them onto the muffin, or bread, or bagel, whatever you choose.

Kale or spinach in an omelet is yet another way to go. In order to keep the spinach or kale from being stringy, I recommend sautéing it, then flipping it out of the pan onto a cutting board, and chopping through it a few times with a chef’s knife, then scraping it up again, to lay on the cooked egg before folding it over to form the omelet.

Kale softened and ready to add to the eggs.

Kale softened and ready to add to the eggs.

You can also drink your kale for breakfast. A friend with very good taste makes a shake using kale mixed with fruit and soy milk. She finds it delicious, and I believe her. I experimented with it for myself, but did not enjoy it as much as she enjoys hers, but that may be a peculiarity of my palate.

As far as wholesome food goes, however, I imagine this shake, which turns a most vivid green, probably provides quite a bit of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals, not to mention those ever-loving antioxidants that kale contains. In case you have heard that people suffering from hypothyroidism have to be careful not to eat too much kale, especially raw, just remember, moderation in all things. A kale shake once or twice a week ought to be quite the old shot in the arm. A recipe for it follows the directions for the kale/spinach, ham, egg sandwich.

Spinach/Kale, Egg, Cheese, Ham on English Muffin for One

Olive oil

Small piece of onion or shallot, minced

A handful of shredded spinach or kale leaves

1-2 thin slices of ham about the size of an English muffin

1 English muffin

1-2 eggs

1-2 thin slices of cheddar cheese

Put a little oil in a sauté pan, add the minced shallot or onion, and heat until you can smell the onion cooking. Add the spinach or kale, and cook only until it is wilted. Take off the heat. Warm the ham on a fry pan or griddle, and toast the English muffin. Lay the spinach or kale on the muffin, top with the ham. Fry the egg(s), turning once, then lay it/them on top of the ham, and a thin slice of cheddar on top of that. Serve right away.

Makes one serving.


Kale Shake

½ peeled, frozen banana

½ pear or apple

1½ cups of kale, shredded and tightly packed

1 cup soy milk

½ teaspoon ginger

Put everything into a blender and liquefy it.

Makes one serving.

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Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.