Introduction: Easy Eggs Florentine With Sweet Potato Leaves

About: I live in a forest garden by the sea in an old Celtic longhouse in the Baie de Mont Saint Michel, France, which I share with Andy and our poultry. Before I escaped and became a happy peasant, I had three jobs …

Strictly speaking à la florentine is a method of preparing eggs or fish on a bed of spinach cooked in butter and with a covering of Mornay sauce. However, as I don't like spinach and am not that keen on flour-based sauces, this is an alternative version. As an aside, I also love growing Ipomoea or morning glories of which the edible version is the sweet potato and in North Western France I have better chance of a good crop of leaves, than tubers. I also have a garden full of chickens, so egg recipes are no problem!

Step 1: Ingredients

For each person/guest (this makes a great party dish) you will need:

1 very fresh egg

1 generous handful of sweet potato leaves

1 globe artichoke

1 small to medium red onion

1 heaped dessertspoon of raw cream

1" cube of hard cheese such as Emmental, Gruyère or Cheddar - grated

Butter for cooking

Turmeric and paprika for sprinkling

Salt and pepper

Step 2: Prepare the Artichokes

This recipe uses just the heart of the artichoke but reserve the leaves to use with a dip such as guacamole - see photo above.

There are many ways of preparing and cooking artichokes, including trimming them. I just rinse mine and put them in a large saucepan of boiling water with the heads facing downwards and cook until the leaves come away easily when pulled. This happens at around about 15 minutes of boiling.

Remove the artichokes with a slotted spoon and leave to cool.

Pull off all the leaves and set aside for another dish.

Holding onto the stem carefully insert a sharp knife between the choke (the fluffy petal part of the flower) and the solid green heart. or you can simple pull away sections of the choke with your fingers.

Flip over the artichoke and trim off the stalk.

The artichoke heart can now be cut into bite size pieces.

Step 3: Preparing the Leaves & Onions

Wash the leaves and depending on the age you can either use them whole (young tender leaves) or chop the older ones.

Slice and dice the red onion.

In a frying pan, sauté the onion in butter until just beginning to soften.

Add the sweet potato leaves and cook, stirring constantly until tender.

Place in warming draw or in a low oven to keep warm.

Step 4: Poaching the Eggs

Poached eggs are best when they are really fresh, so if like me you have hens, then you will have perfect poached eggs - if you can find them!

Place a medium sized pan, half-filled with water on the stove and heat until boiling - the water should have bubbles.

Remove from the heat.

Break eggs one at a time into a shallow dish.

Carefully slide each egg into the water by approaching the bowl so the egg almost floats in. I usually don't like to poach more than three eggs at a time, this way they are in no danger of colliding in the pan.

Simmer very gently (few to no bubbles) for around 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 5: Assembly

Whilst the eggs are poaching, place a circle of artichoke heart pieces around the edge of a heated white plate and sprinkle small circles of paprika and turmeric in between.

Place a mound of sautéed sweet potato leaves and onion in the middle of the plate.

Put the poached egg on top.

Add a dollop of raw cream, topped with grated cheese and sprinkle with turmeric and paprika.

Serve immediately.

Provide salt and pepper for your guests to use as they wish.


Pictured some of my other but non-edible ipomoea.

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