To make the best tansy

tansy photo

Tansy has two meanings: it is both an herb and an egg dish similar to a frittata.  Recipes for tansies vary wildly – some include milk or cream, some have bread crumbs, some have herbs, or apples, or even fish roe.  Some have whole herbs, while others call for the herbs to be juiced, turning the eggs bright green.  Many of the herbs used in tansies have medicinal uses, like violet and strawberry leaves, and the herb tansy itself (Though steer clear of the herb tansy, it’s a purgative!).  Not only were these herbs first budding in the spring, but their medicinal qualities were thought to be a good purge after the heavy winter diet. This recipe uses the common tansy ingredient of spinach, but feel free to use any leafy green.


Makes one 8 inch tansies.

3 large eggs, plus one yolk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup of crusty white bread, torn into small pieces

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

pinch of sugar to taste

  1. In a bowl crack 3 eggs, adding to them one additional yolk. Add the cream, and whisk together until well combined.
  2. Coarsely chop enough spinach to equal one cup, and add to egg mixture.
  3. Tear your bread into small pieces, and densely pack it into your measuring cup(s). Add to egg mixture.
  4. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to the egg mixture. Whisk along with bread crumbs and spinach, until well mixed together.  Set aside for a few minutes, allowing eggs to soak into the bread.
  5. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in an approximately 8 inch nonstick skillet, or cast iron frying pan on medium heat.  Pour in the egg mixture, and smooth to cover the entire pan.
  6. As the tansy cooks, occasionally run a spatula along the edges of the pan, and under the eggs into center of pan, to keep it from sticking.  As you separate the tansy from the side, tilt your pan to allow more of the uncooked eggs to pour along the edges.
  7. Cook until the tansy becomes one solid piece, about 6-8 minutes. The bottom should be cooked through, but there will still be uncooked eggs on the top.  Some browning will occur, but if there seems to be too much, turn heat down to medium-low.
  8. Now here’s the tricky part! Run your spatula along the edges and under your tansy one last time, to make certain it’s not stuck to the pan.  Carefully, using a towel or oven mitt if necessary to hold the pan, slide the tansy cooked side down on a plate slightly larger than your pan.
  9. Dot uncooked top of tansy with 1 tablespoon of butter. Place pan over the tansy, and then sliding your hand under the plate, invert the plate and pan so the uncooked side of the tansy ends up in the bottom of the pan.
  10. Cook the second side of the tansy through, about another 4-6 minutes.
  11. Slide a spatula along the edges and underneath the tansy again to make sure its not stuck, and then slide back out onto the plate.  While warm, sprinkle with a pinch of sugar.