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Eggs Florentine are a special but tooootally doable breakfast or brunch inspired by Carluccio’s and one of our favorite London traditions. Made with our 5-minute immersion blender hollandaise sauce and an easy egg poaching technique.
Our London brunch tradition
I miss living in London. There, I said it. It’s a ridiculous, nostalgic brand of missing at this point, all wistful memories of our highlights and total disregard of the annoyances and challenges. I’m okay with that.
One beautiful highlight was my Saturday morning tradition with the big girl, who, looking back, wasn’t so big. We’d rush to her piano lesson, just the two of us, often missing the last reasonable bus by seconds. Hop into a black cab. She’d have her lesson, I’d stay and listen unless I couldn’t wait a minute more for coffee. Then we’d walk the gorgeous walk from West Hampstead eastward to Rosslyn Hill, cutting through Shepherd’s Walk, the Narnian passageway that leads from Fitzjohns Avenue right to Carluccio’s.
We’d open the big glass door separating Carluccio’s from the world, and we’d assess the crowd. Sit near the light-filled windows if no ill-mannered party of five or more had populated that area, kids akimbo. The big girl always sat on the booth side, me in the chair. We’d cross our fingers for our favorite waitress, who missed us if we ever skipped a week. She was too good to be true — a recent immigrant from eastern Europe clearly headed for bigger and brighter things before long.
Always eggs Florentine
And then we’d order.
Always the same meal. Eggs Florentine for both of us. Mine with a side of the best mushrooms ever. Milky hot chocolate for her. For me, if I felt like it, an espresso cup full of the thickest, richest hot chocolate anywhere ever. Plus — of course — coffee.
The eggs weren’t wildly consistent. Sometimes the yolks would disappoint with their firmness, or the hollandaise pour would be stingy. There were better weeks and just pretty good weeks. Regardless, we were happy.
Afterward we might do a little shopping on the high street. Sunglasses at Oliver Bonas. A stroll through the toy store for birthday party gifts. Snacks or ingredients from Pomona if we were really doubling down on food that day. Didn’t much matter — we were mostly just milking our time together.
Then we’d go home and hug the other half of our family, who’d been out doing a similar thing — but with smoked salmon — at a different neighborhood café. Within the hour, I’d be looking forward to next week.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this Eggs Florentine recipe.
- Baby spinach cooks down dramatically, so what looks like a lot to start with will be just right as soon as it wilts in the pan.
- Good Italian bread is a special touch inspired by Carluccio's, but you can use toasted English muffins for an equally delicious version of this dish.
- A couple of tablespoons of distilled white vinegar help the proteins in the egg whites to set beautifully while the yolks stay soft.
How to make it
Here's what you'll do to make this Eggs Florentine recipe. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- Sauté the shallot and garlic in the olive oil.
- Add the spinach by the handful and cook until just wilted.
- Poach the eggs in barely simmering water (with a little bit of vinegar) to your preferred level of doneness.
- Place some spinach atop a slice of toast or English muffin, gently nestle the eggs into the spinach, top with immersion blender hollandaise sauce, and serve.
Expert tips for poaching eggs
A few simple tips will have you poaching perfect eggs in no time.
First, choose the right pan: fill a wide sauté pan with water to a depth of at least 1 ½ to 2 inches. (A pan like this is ideal.)
Bring the water to a brisk simmer to heat it evenly, and then reduce the heat so the water is virtually still. This provides enough heat for poaching without jostling the eggs too much. Poaching is all about gentle heat.
Yes, it's a great idea to add a couple tablespoons of distilled white vinegar to the poaching liquid. It encourages the proteins in the egg whites to set a little more firmly rather than sprawling all over the place.
Crack each egg into a small bowl and tip carefully into the water, submerging the bowl a bit as you pour. I like to add the eggs in a clockwise circle starting near the handle so I remember in which order to remove them for even cooking.
Cook undisturbed for four minutes, until whites are set and yolks are runny. Remove eggs from pan with a strainer spoon (something like this). Gently place eggs on a paper towel-lined plate and dab the tops to remove excess water. Cut away any scraggly whites if you like.
Eggs Benedict is a toasted english muffin topped with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. Eggs Florentine is a riff on this recipe, where spinach subs in for the Canadian bacon.
In the past, Eggs Florentine has also sometimes meant spinach and either poached or baked eggs, without some of the other elements of Benedict.
I get a kick out of the murky origins of recipes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Typically these stories come up in researching classic cocktails, but brunch fare — which sometimes serves as a hangover cure — can also be a great source of unclear sources.
Depending who you ask and what you count as close enough, Eggs Benedict was either invented at Delmonico's in lower Manhattan in the 1860, or at the Waldorf Hotel in 1894. Eggs Florentine is a version of that recipe.
"Florentine" is often used to mean "with spinach." The trajectory here is also a bit murky, but the term was introduced into the French culinary lexicon when Catherine de' Medici, originally from Florence, Italy, became the queen consort of France in the mid-1500s by marrying King Henry II. She brought her own cooks and also, apparently, spinach seeds, and the rest is (probably) history.
More of our favorite classic egg recipes
- Prosciutto Eggs Benedict
- Quiche Florentine
- Quiche Lorraine
- Deviled Eggs
- French Scrambled Eggs
- Perfect Scrambled Eggs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- Sprinkle of fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 8 large eggs
- 4 slices good Italian bread
- 1 recipe blender hollandaise
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add shallot and garlic and cook for a few seconds. Add spinach by the handful as it fits in the pan, sprinkle with salt and stir frequently until wilted.
- To poach the eggs, fill a wide sauté pan halfway with water. (A pan like this is ideal.) Add vinegar and bring water to a brisk simmer, then reduce heat so the water is virtually still. Crack each egg into a small bowl and tip carefully into the water, submerging the bowl a bit as you pour. I like to add the eggs in a clockwise circle starting near the handle so I remember in which order to remove them for even cooking. Cook undisturbed for four minutes, until whites are set and yolks are runny. Remove eggs from pan with a strainer spoon (something like this). Gently place eggs on a paper towel-lined plate and dab the tops to remove excess water. Cut away any scraggly whites if you like.
- While the eggs poach, toast the bread and make the hollandaise.
- To serve, on each of four plates, top a piece of toast with some spinach, making a little bed for the eggs. Add two poached eggs. Spoon some Hollandaise sauce overtop. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and some parsley if you like.
Serve with the best sautéed mushrooms, if you like.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 604Total Fat: 42.4gCarbohydrates: 53.5gFiber: 20.7gProtein: 42.4g