Sfougato (σφουγγάτο) is a term used to describe a basic egg dish, which can actually look like anything from an open faced omelette to a frittata, to a zucchini slice or a soufflé!
Commonly, a sfougato will often combine eggs with a variety of greens or green vegetables, depending on what is in season – and as per the name "sfougato", the finished dish will have a sponge like texture.
In the first spring after we were married, I made Mr K as special meal one weekend of a green garlic soufflé - green garlic being one his great culinary loves. Ever since then, he often thinks fondly of that soufflé and will ask for it to be made when every green garlic appears at the market, or if we are planning a special dinner for family and friends – he suggests it should be on the menu.
My version of sfougato was born from the memory of that green garlic soufflé – but this is a version that can be made in five minutes on a weeknight! The nettles take a little bit of special handling and can be prepared in advance, or you can substitute with any type of green you prefer. However, nettles are a delicious spring green and are at their best for only a few weeks – well worth the effort of donning some rubber gloves to prevent any stings! The use of the egg whites predominately, compared to the egg yolks, combined with the nettles which are packed with iron, calcium, vitamins A and C – and the probiotic element of the feta - can make you feel quite virtuous while eating this delicious dish.
Nettle, Kafkalithra and Green Garlic Sfougato (σφουγγάτο)
3 egg whites
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of milk
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
25 g good quality Greek DOC feta, crumbled
25 g kefalotyri cheese, finely grated
1 large bunch of nettles
1 small bunch of Kafkalithra (or chervil), chopped
1-2 green garlic bulbs and the tender part of the stem , finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Firstly, prepare the nettles. Using thick washing up gloves, wash and drain the nettles. Pick off the tender leaves and discard the stems. Boil the leaves for 3-4 minutes or until the greens have wilted. Drain and use immediately or store in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 5 days.
2. Prepare the green topping: add a fry pan on medium heat and a splash of olive oil. Add the green garlic and rosemary, and fry gently until it starts to soften. Add the pre-cooked nettles and Kafkalithra and mix well to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. For the sfougato separate the eggs – put the three egg whites into a clean large bowl. Put the one egg yolk in a separate bowl and add to it the milk, salt and pepper, beat with a fork to combine.
4. Put a separate 22cm fry pan on low heat to warm through. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites with an electric hand whisk until they form soft peaks.
5. Next add the a dash of butter to the pan and turn the heat up slightly.
6. While the butter melts, return to the eggs - quickly fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites, adding the grated kefalotyiri cheese.
7. Then, when the butter is foaming in the fry pan, pour the egg mixture into the pan and shake the pan to make it spread out evenly.
8. Let the omelette cook for about 1-2 minutes and carefully slide a knife round the edges to loosen it, sprinkle the greens and crumbled feta all over the surface and quickly place the omelette under the grill.
9. Let it cook until the omelette is puffed up and the cheese is warmed through.
10. Remove the pan from the heat, then slide the knife round the edge again. Take the pan to the serving plate and then tip the omelette onto the plate – you can fold it over too as you tilt it onto the plate.