Esparregado de Espinafres


Esparregado is a classic Portuguese side dish, typically made with spinach in a cream sauce. This is a heartier version, adding eggs and potatoes to transform it into a full meal.  It’s a unique recipe that was created on a farm in Central Portgual, incorporating all of the vegetables they’d harvested. The recipe now lives on in Toronto, passed onto me from Palmira, the daughter of our original, resourceful farmer.

The vibrant and fresh sauteed green vegetable combination gets an extra kick with white wine vinegar. The eggs also add protein,  ensuring a well rounded meal.

Substitute any green, seasonal vegetable and you’ll make our resourceful farmer proud.  Adjust the cooking time to suit the greens you are using.  Prepare the greens, potatoes, and eggs earlier in the day and toss together a satisfying one-dish meal closer to dinnertime in a matter of minutes.

Sometimes I serve Esparregado with a can of tuna or a few slices of smoked salmon.


Esparregado de Espinafres

  • Servings: 2 to 4
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  • 8 cups (2L) water
  • 1 tsp (5mL) salt
  • 1 large head broccoli rabe, rough ends trimmed
    about 1/2  inch (1 cm) from base
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fine salt and coarsely ground
  • pepper, to taste
  • 4 to 6 Tbsp (60 to 90 mL) white wine
  • vinegar or cider vinegar


  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the water and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and add the broccoli rabe.  Return the water to a boil and simmer for about 4 minutes, just until the rabe is bright green and tender. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.  When cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as possible from the greens and dry on kitchen towels to remove any excess water  Using a sharp knife, chop finely.  Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, cover the potato with water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 5 to 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.  When cool, roughly dice and place in the bowl with the greens.
  3. In a large deep saucepan, place the eggs in a single layer.  Pour in enough cold water to come at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the eggs.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat.  Let stand, covered, for 20 minutes.  Drain under cold running water for 2  minutes.  Peel the eggs.  Chop and add to the potato and broccoli rabe.
  4. Using a fork, mix all of the chopped ingredients together — the mixture should not be mashed (it should be retain some rough texture).
  5. In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-low heat.  Saute the garlic until golden, softened, and aromatic, 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir frequently.  Add the broccoli rabe mixture and toss to coat evenly; cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and add vinegar, to taste.  Serve warm over cornbread toast.



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