Nigella Lawson once told me (in her chapter on feeding toddlers and children in How to Eat) that you should introduce children to ‘bits’ in their food as early as possible so they get used to them and never refuse to eat something because they can’t take out all traces of green.
One downside of using the baby-led weaning approach (basically babies feed themselves from six months) is that it makes it difficult to introduce little bits in the first few months because they mostly eat ‘whole’ foods like bananas, slices of sweet potato and soft carrots so I came up with this way of making eggy bread which means you can add spinach to it. You could also add peas, sautéd mushrooms, cooked bacon lardons, buttered leeks or any other bits that your children will tolerate – but you would need two hands to pull it off.
The quantities are approximate as it is difficult to use scales when cooking one-handed. The more often you do the recipe the more familiar you will get with the right consistency. It will still work if it is a bit too runny or stiff though.
Eggy bread is definitely at its best when freshly made and served hot/warm but if you have left over (unlikely), keep in the fridge then place in a hot oven to heat through for 5 minutes to recapture a bit of the crisp deliciousness.
An easy one to make – even if your toddler will insist on being present throughout.
SPINACH EGGY BREAD
You will need
2 individual blocks of frozen leaf spinach (or chopped spinach for babies under 12 months)
2 medium eggs
1 mug of fresh breadcrumbs (approx. 75g)
A handful of grated cheese (Cheddar, Gruyere, Emmental or any hard cheese you can buy in pre-grated bags) (approx. 50g) (optional)
A glug of olive oil (approx. 1 tbs)
What to do
- Defrost the spinach in a microwave or in a small saucepan over a low heat and place it on kitchen roll to drain. (You might need to use two lots of kitchen roll to get the spinach really dry.)
- Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl.*
- Once the spinach is dry, add it to the eggs and mix together with a fork so the spinach is evenly distributed and the eggs thoroughly beaten.
- Add the breadcrumbs and cheese (if using) and stir to incorporate. The mixture should come together into one semi-solid lump which comes away from the sides of the bowl so it is easy to tip the whole thing into the frying pan by up-ending the bowl. If it seems too runny, add more breadcrumbs.
- Place a frying pan over a medium–high heat and add the olive oil.** The oil should be hot enough to make the egg mixture sizzle when you add it so that it quickly forms a solid layer on the bottom. Flatten the mixture into a roughly round cake of even thickness.
- Reduce the heat so that the bottom doesn’t burn before the middle is cooked. Allow to cook for 3–5 minutes until golden and crispy on the bottom then flip over with a fish slice. The cake should come away easily for a one-handed flip. If it doesn’t, leave it to cook for a little longer.
- Cook for 3–5 minutes on the other side and when golden on both sides remove to a plate or board to cool.
- When cool enough to handle, I neaten the edges by cutting off the crispy bits, not because I am a perfectionist but because they are so delicious – I eat them immediately! Slice into bite-sized squares or rectangles and serve warm.
* Cracking eggs with one hand takes practice. Try to use a confident hand so the break is a clean one and don’t try too hard to avoid getting your hand dirty – timidly trying to crack an egg often means you have to do it twice increasing the likelihood of getting shell in your mixture.
** I use olive oil even though it is a bit of a waste to cook with it because I can smell when it’s ready to start cooking, which is very handy when I am distracted…