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Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt

September 19, 2013

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky YogurtPin it!

My three sisters often team up to get me kitchen-related birthday presents. (The kitchen-related part practically goes without saying since I started this blog.)

Last year, they got me an ice cream maker (which I have actually used far more often than this would lead you to believe). In previous years, they’ve also gotten me beautiful sets of dishes, gift certificates for spices, and cookbooks.

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt and Cherry TomatoesPin it!

This time there was a slight communication break-down, since my younger sister has had a crazy busy summer. While they all took the time to consult Paula and check in about whether I already own the cookbook, Jerusalem (I do), they didn’t get a chance to consult with each other…

So for my birthday this year, I got not one but TWO copies of Plenty.

My sisters know me so well.

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt and Cherry Tomatoes

Yotam Ottolenghi’s prequel-to-Jerusalem cookbook features vegetarian recipes inspired by cuisines from around the world. Despite the fact that I already own and love several other cookbooks, which could be said to have the same general theme—like Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Linda McCartney’s World of Vegetarian Cooking—Plenty seems by far to have the boldest flavor combinations and the most original, mind-opening, mouth-watering recipes. (Not to mention the photos!)

Ingredients for Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry Tomatoes

So what to do about this two-cookbook conundrum? My younger sister’s gift showed up later—days after I’d torn the plastic off my first copy of Plenty—so it was technically the redundant one. Luckily, that sister was happy to take the cookbook off my hands (I just packed it in my carry-on to Chicago this past weekend), and she was kind enough to get me The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook instead (bonus!).

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry TomatoesPin it!

So by now you’re thinking, stop bragging about your piles of cookbooks and get to the recipe already, right?

This recipe came about from a very sudden, specific craving. My younger sister’s (redundant) copy of Plenty was on my bedroom floor, leaning up against the wall, near a pile of stuff to pack for my Chicago trip.

Ingredients for Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry Tomatoes

My mind was just starting to toss around potential breakfast ideas—and I was just on the verge of becoming too hungry to make myself anything other than plain old fried eggs—when a photo on the back of the cookbook caught my eye.

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry TomatoesPin it!

In the top-left corner of the back cover of Plenty is a photo of Ottolenghi’s “Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Chile” inspired by Çılbır, Turkish Poached Eggs with Yogurt. I knew immediately that I was having THAT for breakfast.

Unfortunately, it called for arugula but I only had spinach.

Unfortunately, it called for kırmızı biber, a Turkish spice mix of dried chili peppers and sweet red peppers, but I just substituted sweet paprika and chili flakes, as recommended by Ottolenghi.

Making Garlicky Yogurt with substitutes for Turkish kırmızı biber spice

Unfortunately, it called for turning the oven on, but we were in the middle of a (rare) Santa Barbara heat wave and it was about 95 degrees in my non-air-conditioned apartment.

Making Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry TomatoesPin it!

What to do? I set my mind to “baking” the eggs on the stovetop, by just lowering the heat and covering the skillet with a tightly-fitting lid. There are several advantages to this: you can check on the progress of your eggs much more easily, especially if the lid is clear; you don’t need a non-stick yet oven-safe skillet; the cooking time is much shorter on the stovetop than in the oven, pre-heating time aside; and last but not least, you don’t need to turn on the oven and pump up the heat in your apartment until you’ve made your own DIY hot yoga studio in your living room.

Making Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry Tomatoes

So that first morning (and about ten mornings since then!) I made skillet-baked eggs with spinach and a peppery, sweet, garlicky Greek yogurt topping.

Garlicky Yogurt with substitutes for Turkish kırmızı biber spice: paprika and chili

That first morning, I devoured it with a spoon (in about five seconds). I didn’t even think about needing toast. I didn’t even remember that I had coffee within arm’s reach until I had polished off the last bite. It was SO good.

In a slightly later rendition, it occurred to me to add cherry tomatoes. They were lovely with this dish—warmed through, just splitting open, soft, tangy, and juicy.

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry TomatoesPin it!

With stovetop- and oven-baked eggs alike, the yolks can definitely end up a bit more cooked than my ideal super-runny-yolk preference, yet these are still tender and soft, and almost fluffy, from the slow skillet baking—which Paula pointed out is really more like steaming because of the juices from the spinach/tomatoes and the condensation in the pan.

Making Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry Tomatoes

(One strategy to combat too-cooked yolks might be to make wider/lower spinach nests that allow the egg white to spread out more—and thus cook faster, so the whites can set up completely before the yolks firm up too much.)

Ingredients for Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry Tomatoes

These eggs are my new favorite weekday (and weekend) breakfast; I haven’t yet made them for dinner, but it’s only a matter of time… They might also be good with some za’atar sprinkled over the top, or with some chopped fresh mint leaves tossed into the yogurt just before serving.

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry Tomatoes

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt
(Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)

(Serves 2)

~ 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
~ 8 oz. spinach (or mix of spinach and arugula)
~ sea salt, to taste
~ 20 cherry tomatoes (optional)
~ 4 eggs
~ ⅔ cup Greek yogurt
~ 1 clove garlic, minced
~ pinch of chili flakes
~ pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
~ generous sprinkling of sweet paprika

Equipment needed:
~ non-stick skillet with a tightly-fitting lid

How to make it:

(You can make either two or four eggs at a time, depending on the size of your skillet. I prefer to make two eggs at a time—so that the eggs have a shorter cooking time and I can have more control over the yolks staying soft.)

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet. Add a few handfuls of spinach (only 4 oz. for two eggs at a time), and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, adding more spinach gradually, and adding more olive oil as needed. Sprinkle sea salt over the spinach to taste. Once the spinach has shrunk down to a manageable size, add the cherry tomatoes to the skillet as well. Cook until spinach has wilted completely, for about 5 minutes.

Making Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry Tomatoes

2. Turn the heat down to the lowest (or near-lowest) setting. Bunch the spinach up in the center of the pan, then hollow out two (or four) nests for the eggs, into a spinach figure eight, making sure the egg whites will be mostly walled-in by the spinach. (I use chopsticks to do this.) One at a time, crack eggs into a small bowl, then slowly pour them into the spinach nests. Cover the pan with the tightly-fitting lid, and let it steam/bake for 6-10 minutes (or more time for all four eggs), checking after 6 minutes to see if the egg whites are set.

(Note: stovetops and skillets are all a little different from each other, so you may have to experiment a bit with the perfect cooking time for your burner/skillet combination. The eggs may take 6-7 minutes in a small omelette pan, but 8-10 minutes in a larger skillet with a high-domed lid.)

Making Spinach Nests for Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt and Cherry Tomatoes          Spinach Nests for Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt and Cherry Tomatoes

3. While the eggs are cooking, make the garlicky yogurt. Stir the garlic, chili flakes, and paprika(s) into the yogurt, adding a pinch of salt if desired.

4. Once egg whites are set, transfer spinach, eggs, and tomatoes to a serving plate and top with a dollop or two of yogurt. (Repeat for other two eggs.) Sprinkle the yogurt/eggs with additional paprika or chili if desired, and serve immediately with fresh bread or toast, or just a spoon.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt, Spinach, and Cherry TomatoesPin it!

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50 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2013 9:20 am

    allison. this looks AMAZING. i adore eggs, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    i’ve been wanting the Jerusalem cookbook for awhile and Plenty looks great too.

    • September 19, 2013 9:33 am

      Thanks, Lan! Both cookbooks are just gorgeous; I highly recommend them. It’s a shame I actually haven’t gotten around to trying that many recipes from Jerusalem yet (even though I’ve had it for a while, and I love to page through it). In fact, I’ve probably already used Plenty more times than Jerusalem, if you count making this recipe 10x… :)

      • September 20, 2013 8:38 pm

        Made something like this for dinner tonite, using baby kale & potatoes. I used coconut yogurt & added a squirt of lemon juice to it. It was really really good!

      • September 22, 2013 11:13 am

        Oo, yum! That sounds soooo good. Adding potatoes is a nice idea! And I love sauteed/steamed kale with fresh lemon juice (though I guess you added the lemon to the yogurt, not the kale…).

        I’ve never tried coconut yogurt, but I love coconut everything else, so… :)

  2. September 19, 2013 9:26 am

    Yoghurt and eggs. Never would have thought to put them together but this is a beautiful dish.

    • September 19, 2013 9:36 am

      I know! I might not have thought of that either… I mean I did post a recipe for eggs benedict with a yogurt-based substitute for hollandaise sauce a while back, but I was really thinking of that yogurt just as a hollandaise stand-in, so it still might never have occurred to me to simply dollop seasoned Greek yogurt on top of my eggs… but it’s SO delicious!

  3. September 19, 2013 9:27 am

    Happy belated birthday! I’m currently having a love affair with runny yolks and this just fuels the fire. Yum.

    • September 19, 2013 9:29 am

      And as far as a dinner version goes, I bet just on top of simple spaghetti this would be divine! (Now I know what I’m making tonight…)

    • September 19, 2013 9:41 am

      Oh my god! This on top of spaghetti! So decadent and filling and now I need to try that soon, too! Genius. (Of course I’d also happily eat this for dinner without pasta…)

      Anyway, thanks for the birthday wishes! :) And as far as runny yolks go, I love them too, but baked eggs (whether in the oven or on the stovetop) are never as runny-yolked as I’d like them to be—that is if you want the whites to really be fully cooked… So this dish doesn’t yield runny yolks as nice as if you were to fry or poach the eggs, but even with that strike against it, I am having a love affair with this recipe!

  4. September 19, 2013 9:38 am

    I love the Ottolenghi recipe and have made it many times, but I actually most often make it using spinach and cook it on the stove-top. I never thought of adding tomatoes, so I’ll try that next time!

    • September 19, 2013 9:45 am

      Nice! Great minds think alike! :) The spinach works really well, doesn’t it… I have yet to try it with arugula, but I’m sure a mix of spinach and arugula or just arugula would be great, too.

      I briefly considered whether or not adding the tomatoes would be over the top (since I have a tendency to want to add tomatoes to everything…) but they were right at home with the spinach, eggs, and yogurt.

  5. September 19, 2013 9:41 am

    Gorgeous Photos!

  6. September 19, 2013 10:35 am

    The photo of perfect poached eggs atop a bed of soft moist spinach and decorated with pretty cherry tomatoes just took my breath away!! Now i feel like buying the Jerusalem cookbook! thanks for sharing, hope you’re enjoying all your cookbooks now! xoxo

    • September 22, 2013 11:01 am

      Thanks, Felicia! (What a compliment! : ) You should check out the Jerusalem and Plenty cookbooks; I definitely recommend both of them.

  7. September 19, 2013 11:29 am

    The duplicate cookbook thing is not strange for Jess. One time she got me the same book two years in a row as presents.

    • Jessica permalink
      September 19, 2013 2:22 pm

      Ha! It was a good book!!

    • September 22, 2013 11:02 am

      Sibling fight in the blog comments! ;)

      Also, I think I might have had something to do with that duplicate book that Jess(/we?) gave you… sorry about that. :)

  8. September 20, 2013 6:09 am

    I love the match of colorful ingredients. ^^

    • September 22, 2013 11:03 am

      Thanks, Jessie! Yes, I love it when food is both delicious and colorful! And this dish is especially colorful with more than one type of tomato. (I realized with that blue napkin added to the photo that I practically had the whole rainbow of colors represented…)

  9. September 21, 2013 11:55 am

    Fabulous, fabulous nosh Alison, we make cilbir often in our house and those additions of lovely tomatoes is a great fit. Spinach is widely used with eggs in Turkish cuisine too, great choice! loved your photos as always and I MUST get the cookbook!:) Ozlem

    • September 22, 2013 11:05 am

      Thanks, Ozlem! I think I’d fit right in and truly enjoy all the food that gets served in your house… if only I lived close enough for a visit. :) And yes, I’m sure you’d love the cookbook!

  10. September 22, 2013 5:16 am

    Nice to hear your thought process on getting to a recipe. Sometimes I worry about taking inspiration from others because you don’t want to copy people’s recipes but at the same time we get inspiration from all sorts of places and that includes other bloggers, cooks, chefs and cookbooks. Lovely to see and great recipe!

    • September 22, 2013 11:10 am

      Thanks for you comment! I know; I worry about that, too. Especially because I sometimes find a recipe that I love so much (and start making so often) that I want to share it with others, but it might be someone else’s recipe that’s already pretty perfect, as is!

      I still think those are worth sharing—or worth alerting others to—but I do always try to make at least a few innovations of my own (and of course share the recipe with my own words and photographs) if I’m going to post it on my blog.

  11. September 23, 2013 4:28 am

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photos.

    Also, you can NEVER have too many cookbooks.

    (One Christmas I received two KitchenAid mixers. Can you even imagine?! It was amazing. Aaaaaand one was exchanged for a small freezer. How can a KitchenAid cost as much as a FREEZER?!?!?!?)

    • September 23, 2013 11:04 am

      Two KitchenAid mixers?! That is amazing. See with those I might have actually been tempted to keep them both! I mean what if you have a double-kitchenaid-needing emergency? Or what if one of them breaks down? Or what if your first mixer doesn’t color coordinate with your other appliances?

      (For the record I own zero KitchenAid mixers, but am constantly and unsuccessfully trying to win one in blog giveaways. I guess I must have some crazy, mixed-up assumptions that they cost even MORE than a freezer… I did finally invest in an electric hand mixer *after* I posted a recipe for homemade mayonnaise. Come to think of it, I bet I would get more use out of extra freezer space than out of a stand mixer!)

      Thank you also for your reassurance that you can never have too many cookbooks! My cookbook bookshelf is literally buckling under the weight of my cookbooks—one shelf is no longer held up by the knobs on the sides, but is actually resting directly on the cookbooks below—but I still agree. :)

  12. September 23, 2013 5:28 am

    So I must say that these pictures inspired a very similar and delicious breakfast for Matt and I on Sunday morning. Thank you!! On another note, I was visiting Madison a couple weekends ago for a wedding and took a visit to the farmers market. One of my favorite things is the spicy cheese bread, its to die for. Now that it’s all gone, I’m feeling inspired to try and come up with my own recipe. I don’t think it could ever be the same though!

    • September 23, 2013 11:10 am

      Yay! I’m so glad you got to visit the Madison farmers market! It’s always been one of my favorite things about Madison—I’m really so lucky to have grown up there—and that hot & spicy cheese bread from Stella’s is pretty awesome, too. (Although it’s gotten way more hyped up in recent years, but I guess deservedly so!) I would definitely be interested in hearing if you have any success imitating the recipe!! I just googled it out of curiosity and the Kitchn has a version of the recipe up, although it doesn’t look exactly the same…

      Anyway, so happy to have inspired a delicious breakfast for you guys! Thanks for letting me know :)

  13. Hooray! Food! permalink
    September 23, 2013 4:48 pm

    What! I can’t decide what I like best about this recipe: the baked eggs, the garlic, or the yogurt. I think I’ll settle on the fact that they are all together in one recipe. :) This looks fantastic! Definitely going to have to try it!

    • September 26, 2013 8:53 am

      Thank you! I hope you do get to try it. :) I seriously can’t get enough of it… I’ve STILL been making it for breakfast at least every other day…

  14. September 23, 2013 5:21 pm

    This looks so good! I recently got Jerusalem and basically sat down and read it cover to cover. So, so gorgeous and everything sounds amazing. Now I can’t wait to get Plenty too!

    • September 26, 2013 8:56 am

      Thanks! Yes, Jerusalem is gorgeous (and Plenty really is, too).

      I love that you read it cover to cover, and that you made me realize that 1) Paula and I have made a tradition of sitting down together and doing that with EVERY single cookbook we acquire, and 2) that’s not normal?!?

      Actually I’d forgotten that Plenty was all vegetarian when I got it, so when we were reading Plenty cover to cover, I swear it took me until like 3/4 of the way through the book to realize there were no meat recipes—I’d barely noticed it!

  15. September 24, 2013 12:57 pm

    Happy birthday!!

    Now I have not one, but two cookbooks I gotta pick up on my next spree… Can’t wait. Love this dish, too!

  16. mataicooking permalink
    September 27, 2013 10:37 am

    A xummy Idea, delicious . . .

  17. September 28, 2013 3:58 pm

    As near as I can tell, I had this exact breakfast the last time I was in Istanbul. It’ll be fun trying to recreate it, thanks so much for the recipe!

    • October 1, 2013 12:57 pm

      Very cool that you had something similar in Turkey! It makes sense, as Turkish food was Ottolenghi’s inspiration for the original dish. I’ve never been to Turkey, but I would LOVE to go someday… it’s near the top of my list! :)

      • October 3, 2013 10:46 pm

        I’m a little biased because my girlfriend is from Istanbul, but Turkey is an amazing country to visit. It’s a huge country with lots of beautiful natural attractions, incredible historical sites and great food. A very friendly country as well, but be warned, people will attempt to sell you a rug, but they usually do it by offering tea, so it’s not so bad.

      • October 10, 2013 9:04 am

        Haha, okay; I’ll consider myself warned. I’m jealous of your connection to Turkey… very cool that you’ve really taken the chance to get to know the country and the food!

  18. October 5, 2013 9:42 am

    Alison this is gorgeous! The sort of dish where I think; why didn’t I think of this myself! I can’t wait to try it xx

    • October 10, 2013 9:03 am

      Thanks, Deena! Yes, it was all inspired by Ottolenghi but (like so many of his recipes) it seems so natural, perfect, and obvious once you’ve been introduced to it! :)

  19. October 10, 2013 4:26 pm

    Gorgeous photos. YUM is all I have to say about this one! Making it very soon! x

    • October 11, 2013 8:16 am

      Thanks! I love that so many people are rushing off to make this very soon! It’s really a tribute to Ottolenghi’s genius and the photogenic-ness (photogenicity?) of these ingredients! :)

  20. January 9, 2014 4:07 pm

    Lucky family and friends you have. All of your recipes look fabulous. THIS – oh my – the perfect brunch dish when good eggs are plentiful and fresh tomatoes are in season. It would work well with any green. I love versatile recipes. Your photos are insanely good, Allison. Best wishes, Shanna

    • January 10, 2014 10:36 am

      Thanks so much, Shanna! I appreciate your taking the time to look around my old recipes, etc.

      This is definitely one of my favorite brunch/breakfast dishes. It works well with any green, like you said, and it’s still delicious without tomatoes too, when they’re not in season. (You pretty much can’t go wrong with eggs + yogurt + garlic. :)


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