Vivian Howard’s Sloppy Joe Shirred Eggs with Spinach


Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

Years ago, eggs baked in marinara rendered me speechless at a restaurant called Bar Pitti in Manhattan’s West Village. Ever since I’ve been shirring (another more seductive word for baking or broiling whole eggs out of their shell) in all the saucy stuff I have on hand. This version builds on a turkey sloppy joe ragout I make for my kids. I swap out the sugar in standard sloppy joes for carrot and caramelized onion and nestle each egg on a mound of garlic-forward wilted spinach. A perfect bite of this reminds me of one of my guilty pleasures – a sausage, spinach and cheese omelet covered in ketchup. Plus, you can use one pan from start to finish here. That alone should encourage you to make it.

See more: Vivian Howard’s Collard Green Chicken Soup


  • 1 medium carrot, top removed and cut into about 6 pieces
  • 14.5 ounces (1 can) tomatoes or 2 scant cups fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • ½ cup caramelized onions
  • 1 pound ground turkey*
  • 2 teaspoons cumin, toasted then ground
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)

*When buying ground turkey, I always choose some that has fat in it. I also avoid the pre-seasoned packages. They make following a recipe tricky.

See more: For Vivian Howard, It’s a Wonderful Chef’s Life


Heat oven to 400. Combine the carrot, tomatoes plus their juice and 1 cup of water a blender. Blitz it till it’s as smooth as your blender allows.

To a 12-inch sauté pan or skillet set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and minced garlic. Watch for the garlic to start sizzling, then stir in the spinach and ½ teaspoon salt. Continue stirring until all the spinach is wilted. Remove it from the pan and set aside.

Add the final tablespoon of olive oil. Raise the heat to medium and add the turkey plus 1 teaspoon salt. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, break the turkey up into small morsels as it browns. When you have browned turkey, add the cumin, black pepper and paprika. Stir to incorporate, toasting the spices for about 30 seconds. Add the carrot-tomato mixture, the caramelized onions, ½ teaspoon salt and vinegar. Let this cook for about 15 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. You may need to lower the heat to prevent Joe from sticking or splattering. When the ragout is done it will be thick and juicy. If it seems too dry, stir in a little water. Taste the ragout for seasoning.

Turn the heat off and make four indentions. Divide the spinach and put equal amounts in each indentation. Top each section of spinach with a cracked egg. Sprinkle the eggs with the remaining teaspoon salt. Slide the skillet onto the middle rack of your preheated oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The whites should be set and the yolks should be slightly runny.

To serve, scatter ribbons of Parmigiano Reggiano or another hard cheese over top. If bread is your thing, this is great with toast.

Makes: 4 servings

– Vivian Howard

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