Cheesy Baked Eggs, Meet Creamed Spinach (and Kale, and Swiss Chard)

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[Photographs: Emily and Matt Clifton]

Sometimes we want to start the day with an omelette: maybe cook up some chopped leafy greens, sauté a few mushrooms until they're golden, throw in a handful of cheese, and enclose the whole thing in an egg jacket. And sometimes, we want to flip the whole concept inside out and bake the eggs right on top of the other ingredients, because, you know, we're mavericks like that.

It does take a little longer than the omelette method, and it requires turning on the oven. But really, since we're fully cooking the greens and mushrooms either way, it's the difference between a couple of minutes standing at the range and 20 minutes of unattended baking.

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Our chickens are laying again after their winter pause, and the kitchen counter is starting to fill up with stacks of egg boxes. Whenever we can think of new ways to use up their daily produce, it's a win. In this recipe, the eggs form the crowning layer of a hearty dish packed with creamy greens. You might think three different types of greens is excessive, but we're here to tell you it's worth the trouble of putting together an assortment.

The spinach leaves cook down the most, followed by the chard leaves, while the kale usually holds its structure a little more. What you end up with is a range of textures instead of one homogeneous mass. Once they're cooked down and chilled in an ice bath, don't be afraid to really give them a good squeeze with your hands to expel as much water as you can. You don't want your baked dish to be soggy.

We continue the process by giving the mushrooms a good browning, then remove them to cook the leeks. This fourth "green" element is used as a flavoring, lending its mild oniony taste to the leafy greens. Sliced shallots or onions, if cooked until fully softened, are fine stand-ins.

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To make the creamy sauce, we build what is essentially a béchamel right on top of the sautéed leeks, first sprinkling flour into the pot, then adding some half and half and milk. We punch up the flavor with a small amount of white wine, mustard, and spices, and then fold the greens back into that mixture. You'll be able to see whether the sauce needs any adjustments for consistency—if it's too thick, just add enough milk or water to thin it slightly. Then it's time to fill a baking dish (or smaller individual baking dishes, if you prefer) with the creamy greens and some Gruyère cheese, making little wells where you want your eggs to go.

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It takes a ton of practice to get an omelette just right, but these eggs require very little finesse. Just pop them in the oven until they're done. Do pay attention to your timing, though: One of the main perks of this dish is that you get to break open the yolks and mix them with the greens, so be sure not to cook the eggs too hard.