Here’s a remix on the infamous Spanish dish known as Huevos Rotos (“broken eggs”), sans the jamon, potato, chorizo, or copious amounts of oil usually used when making this dish. This version is also delicious served with soft boiled eggs and sautéed garlicky spinach over lightly buttered whole grain toast. Garlic and spinach are meant for each other, and the combination is satisfying when you’re craving something meaty but would prefer a meatless yet still-satisfying meal option. (Note: When cutting back on meat, people often find themselves missing a particular flavor, and then think that they’re missing the actual meat protein itself. But if you find the right textures or combinations of aromatics with vegetables, chances are high that you’ll have a great meatless dish that is still packed with protein. And you just might find yourself coming back to it again and again.)

When I was a teenager, my grandfather used to make huevos rotos with french fries. I watched him peel and cut up russet potatoes into batonnets and transfer them to a nearby bowl filled with salted cold water. I learned this keeps the potatoes from oxidizing and turning an unflattering brownish color. He’d strain the fries using a colander and then put them, still damp, into a skillet of piping hot oil, creating quite a popping, sizzling and bubbling show while I looked on in amazement. Occasionally, the hot oil would spit angrily, never leaving a burn mark but scaring me enough to flinch. (Of course, later in culinary school I’d learn that after straining the batonnets from the cold water, one should pat them thoroughly dry to prevent the hot oil from splattering all over the place.) He’d then transfer the crispy french fries onto a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle them generously with salt. Immediately after, he’d crack open a few eggs right into the same piping hot oil. The whites of the eggs would magically puff up and turn golden crisp. I’d watch how he would spoon hot oil over the yolks so that they were properly cooked yet still runny, and serve the fried eggs over the french fries. We’d break the yolks immediately and dip the salty fries right in. Fast forward to my senior year in college when, after a night of dancing and coming home starved, I quickly whipped up huevos rotos with french fries and served it to all of my friends. One friend always reminds me how delicious they were and could never forget the experience.

Spinach alone is not, by any means, the most profound supporting player for meat, but when sauteed until wilted, with minced garlic and seasoned with salt and red chili flakes, it becomes something more gratifying. The broken yolk, seasoned with kosher salt or Maldon sea salt and Urfa Biber flakes, makes this meal more interesting—even, dare I say, elevating. Urfa Biber lends a smoky-sweet pepperiness to the package, creating that umami effect we all crave in meat. That is the “high,” so to speak, that many of us have been conditioned to want when we think about eating meat. This isn’t to knock meat eating at all! I am merely making a point on how we can be flexible with our daily intake of protein and switch it up.

Huevos rotos are found all over Spain and in Spanish restaurants in America. The meal is sometimes called huevos estrellados, which means eggs broken into a star-shaped splatter. With this style, eggs are usually fried in a generous amount of hot olive oil and served over french fries. One Spanish restaurant where I used to work served their version of huevos rotos over a potato confit smothered in extra-virgin olive oil with slices of jamon iberico and a 6-minute egg.

If you YouTube “huevos rotos,” you’ll find that most of these dishes are fried and served with various combinations of jamon, chorizo and potatoes. With a little creativity, this version can satisfy that salty/savory/sweet thing that our brains identify as mouthwatering flavor (think parmesan, crispy bits of meat, or nutritional yeast). It’s meant to fulfill that craving for meat and starch, but without it. Instead of jamon, we have garlicky spinach because it adds a savory touch.

When making this dish, please note that you’ll want to work on the eggs in tandem with sauteing the spinach, because it’s better if both components meet with the toast while they’re still hot. Luckily, this is achievable because both the spinach and eggs take the same amount of time to prepare. (Chef’s Note & Time Saving Hack: You can make batches of garlicky spinach in advance. Keep in airtight containers in the fridge and serve within 3 – 4 days. When ready to serve, simply reheat in a skillet until hot.) In the end, poke an “X” into the eggs and open up the whites, letting the yolk spill naturally wherever it lands. It should look like a beautiful mess on your toast. Sprinkle with kosher salt (or Maldon sea salt) and urfa biber flakes. Garnish with parsley leaves. Enjoy!

Huevos Rotos Remix:

Broken Soft Boiled Eggs • Garlicky Spinach • Whole Grain Toast Urfa Biber & Parsley Garnish

Yields 4

Ingredients:

4 slices of whole-grain bread (preferably with hearty grains, nuts and seeds)

2 tbsp unsalted butter

4 ½ cups cold water

8 eggs

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 – 5 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 lb bag of baby spinach

red chile flakes, pinch

salt & pepper, to taste (kosher salt or Maldon sea salt)

Urfa Biber chile flakes, generous pinch

parsley leaves, as garnish

Instructions:

Toast bread slices on the lowest setting of your toaster or toaster oven so that it toasts without any color. Pat slices of toast with unsalted butter. Set aside.

Place 4 ½ cups of cold water into a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce boiling water to a slow/medium boil. With a slotted spoon, gently place the cold eggs into the simmering water. When the boiling resumes, time the cooking to your preferred softness of eggs (6 – 8 minutes).

In the meantime, heat up a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the garlic and the spinach. Sauté until the spinach wilts completely. You may need to add the spinach in two separate batches. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red chile flakes. Set aside.

When the eggs are cooked to your liking, gently remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and immediately place in cold water (this stops the eggs from cooking). Remove the egg shells and rinse the eggs with warm running water. Set aside.

Assembly:

Place lightly buttered toast onto serving plates.

Spready garlicky spinach over each slice of toast from corner to corner.

Place 2 soft boiled eggs over the garlicky spinach in the center of each piece of toast.

Poke an “X” into each egg and open up the whites, letting the yolks spill over naturally.

Season the broken eggs with kosher salt (or Maldon sea salt) and a generous pinch of Urfa Biber chile flakes. Garnish with parsley leaves. Enjoy!

Harlem-native Kelly Torres is a professional chef, chef instructor, and events caterer with 14 years of experience in food & hospitality. She is the former host, writer, cook, and producer of the online cooking show, “Brooklyn, EAT your heart out!” Kelly is currently working on a cookbook curating some of her favorite meals. Follow her on Instagram at @cookeatsocialize.