Greens with eggs, garlic yogurt, and chili butter

IMG_20180812_101958068Yogurt finally convinced me it was worthy of my attention in the summer of 2009. Prior to that I hated the gloppy texture and saccharine sweetness of fruit flavored yogurts in tiny cups (or worse, pouches). But that year my mom and I traveled through Greece and Turkey, both cuisines that revere yogurt and think of it as an ingredient more like cream cheese that can be used in savory and sweet applications. But unlike dense and fattier cream cheese, it is light, tangy and refreshing.

My gateway yogurt experience was in Greece. We ate a meal that I’m sure was delightful but is now totally obscured by my memory of dessert. After the meal I was served a schmear of plain Greek yogurt in a stemmed bowl lightly drizzled with honey. It was creamy, cool, and a perfect foil to sweet and herbal honey. Where had THIS yogurt been all my life?

In Istanbul we wandered the streets until we came upon a little cafe with outdoor seating. (Our family rule is any meal that can be eaten outside, should be eaten outside.) When I’m in a place where I’m not familiar with everything on the menu, I like to watch what people around me order. I saw a plate of rice, grilled vegetables, something that looked like grilled meatballs, tomato sauce, and yogurt be delivered to a nearby table, and motioned something to convey “PLEASE FEED ME THAT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE” to the waiter. Turkish kofte is ground lamb or beef that is heavily spiced with cumin and onion, and the warmly flavored meat is incomplete without yogurt or a yogurt sauce.

When we returned home I discovered that my hatred of flavored yogurt had blinded me to a well established US obsession with Greek yogurt, which was widely available. It became a staple in my fridge that earned its keep with its versatility. Flavored yogurt can be breakfast with granola or in a smoothies, but its uses stop there. Plain yogurt serves those purposes even better (especially with fresh fruit), but also can be used in baking, in pancakes, instead of sour cream (when you forget to buy it, or just can’t be bothered to knowing the rest will languish in the fridge), stirred into soups, dolloped on top of dal, or incorporated into a savory sauce.

Which brings me to this dish of sauteed greens, eggs, garlic yogurt, chili butter, and potatoes. Israeli cuisine is another that celebrates the flavor of yogurt, and Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are some of the first I turn to when I am looking for interesting ways to prepare vegetables. I own Jerusalem, Plenty, and Plenty More, which I flipped through this week for some inspiration. I was mostly looking for ways to use tomatoes and eggplant, but a recipe for baked eggs with yogurt, chile and arugula in Plenty More (page 140) seemed a fitting use for the bunch of greens in my fridge. Instead of arugula, I used a mix of Asian greens from my CSA and kale and collards from my garden.  (Those were from last week’s CSA, but from this week the chard, bok choy, or both would be excellent). I boiled extra potatoes when I made the composed salad earlier this week, so I crisped those up to have with the greens, but a nice piece of toast would be fitting as well. I find eggs very difficult to cook to my preferred done-ness in the oven (set whites and verrrrrrrrry runny yolks), so I did my usual pan-fried over easy eggs here, but prepare them however makes you happiest.

The magic really comes from Ottolenghi’s genius accouterments: grated raw garlic stirred into yogurt, and melted butter with chili flakes. Both quickly come together while everything else is cooking, and provide a creamy tang and a fatty heat that make this dish so much more than greens and eggs. I made it for Sunday breakfast, but this would work for any meal.

Greens with eggs, garlic yogurt, and chili butter

Adapted from Baked eggs with yogurt and chile in Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves 4

  • 1 cup sliced onion (from 1 small onion)
  • 1/2 lb of hearty greens, chopped (8 cups total)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup plain (unflavored) Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo chili flakes (or 1/4 teaspoon regular chili flakes)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

For serving

  • 1 lb of cooked potatoes or 4 slices of toast
  • 4 eggs, cooked however you please

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the greens and stir. Cook for 5 minutes more until greens are completely wilted.

While the onions and greens are cooking, stir the grated garlic into the yogurt along with a pinch of salt. Do not refrigerate while you finish cooking.

In a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and chili flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the butter is foamy and turns red from the chili flakes.

Serve greens with eggs and yogurt alongside potatoes or toast, and drizzle everything with the chili butter.

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Easy Breakfast Ideas

I make breakfast almost every day. Yet, it seems to be the meal I most often panic before as if it if my first time cracking an egg. Probably because it’s not a meal I really plan for. I make sure there are eggs and some kind of base for them in the house (bread, tortillas, potatoes, polenta), plus leftover vegetables from dinner.

On a weekday I spend 10-15 minutes making breakfast for two, usually more than that on the weekends. Weekdays are never fancy, and often just repeats of the same items in slightly different iterations (toast + veg + egg + hot sauce). More than anything this is a reminder to myself of just how many options I have, for the next time I’m staring at an open carton of eggs at 8:15am. Meat doesn’t usually make it into the meal, but I do always save the fat from cooking bacon to use for sauteing veg or frying eggs.

Reliable Weekday Rotations

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersToast with butter, honey, and flaky salt. This is one of the most delightfully simple combinations, but it is relatively new to me. I’ve found the key is to go heavy on the butter and honey so they really soak into the bread. This is also the time to bring out your fanciest salt.

It is barely worth mentioning, but a lot of toast with a vegetable topped with a fried egg happens around here. Avocado or tomatoes heated in the pan are definite favorites. Green scrambled eggs with mustard toast are a little fancier. Egg in a hole is somehow so much better than toast with a fried egg, and also so much more fun.

Toast with whipped feta, kale, and scrambled eggs. This was inspired by the best bakery in central MA, which just does toast with whipped feta, olive oil, and parsley. I took it a step further and added sauteed kale and scrambled eggs for an explosion of my favorite things.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersHuevos rancheros. Flipping these takes a bit of skill, but the crispy tortilla and runny egg make an excellent base for other accouterments (I don’t usually use cheese). Chopped avocado, sauteed vegetables (whatever is around), beans, cilantro, leftover green sauce, and hot sauce work in any combination (or ideally all together).

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersBreakfast burritos. My version of these look miniature compared to a normal burrito. I use 10″ flour tortillas, and warm them in a large pan while I scramble the eggs (1 per person). At minimum I put in beans and eggs, often a sauteed vegetable, sometimes cheese, salsa, and always hot sauce. I leave the pan I heated the tortillas in on the heat while I fill them, and then once rolled return them to the pan, seam side down, to crisp. This step is absolutely key in achieving perfect tortilla texture.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersPolenta with veg and an egg. I don’t usually make the polenta on a weekday morning, but I make extra when I make some for dinner or for a weekend breakfast. This past weekend I whisked in some cream cheese at the end, but I’ve used just about every cheese that’s been in the fridge (or even none at all). Greens and an egg are my favorite toppings (do I even have to mention the hot sauce?), but this spicy polenta breakfast bowl is an excellent version as well.

When I have to be at work extra early to run camp programming, I buy a tub of Greek yogurt, some fruit, make a batch of granola, and then just have to assemble them all in a bowl with an extra drizzle of honey or maple syrup each morning. The earlier I eat breakfast the earlier I get hungry again, so I make a batch of whole wheat chocolate coffee banana muffins for a mid morning snack.

Weekend Breakfast Extravaganza

Hash browns with kale and eggs. This is usually a weekend meal since the potatoes take a bit longer. Sometimes I make them more like a giant latke, sometime I cube them and cook them in a pan, other times I roast them. The potato-egg-kale combo never fails me.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersShakshuka. I think of this more as tomato sauce with whatever beans or veg you have around, plus eggs and bread. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has an excellent Mexican inspired version with black beans in the sauce and topped with crispy tortilla bits.

The best buttermilk pancakes. I’ve been making these for years. The batter is simple as pie (cake?) to put together, but the cooking does take a good 15 minutes. Sometimes I try to squeeze these in on a weekday, but that is when I’m feeling my most ambitious. These whole wheat raspberry yogurt pancakes are a more healthful version, which are also making me desperately crave raspberry season.

Multigrain waffles. These have worked flawlessly for me every time…except for that one occasion I forgot to add the baking powder (they were very flat, and it took me far too long to figure out why). I’ve only made them once as pictured (with yogurt and pomegranate), because this born and bred New Englander much prefers maple syrup.

The most decadent item in my repertoire (which also requires prep the day before)…buns. Most recently cashew morning buns and this standby chai version.

In case you need even more morning inspiration, I have an entire Pinterest board of breakfast ideas. What am I missing?

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes - Vegetal MattersThis is the basic pancake recipe I play off of all the time. The original recipe called for sour cream instead of yogurt, but that makes for a very thick pancake and I find I have extra yogurt in the fridge to use up far more often than sour cream. I also made the switch to 100% wheat flour, which doesn’t affect the tenderness at all (and makes me feel just slightly better about eating pancakes for breakfast on a weekday). As mentioned in the head note I’ve tried many fruits throughout the seasons, but last week after a spontaneous raspberry picking adventure I dotted the pancakes with them and was so pleased with the result. The raspberries cook very quickly, and become tiny pockets of intense, jammy, fruitiness. I will admit a slight bias as raspberries are one of my favorite fruits, but these pancakes are quick to put together and an adaptable staple for the whole year.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes - Vegetal Matters

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Serves 2.

The recipe this is adapted from uses a very thinly sliced peach, and many other fruits can be used. Blueberries, cut up strawberries, and grated apple have been used with great success. The pancakes can be doubled or tripled. If you do that, set your oven to 200F and pop the finished pancakes on a baking sheet as you cook them to keep warm while you cook the rest.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain full-fat yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • ¾ cup (93 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Butter for the pan
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • Maple syrup and additional raspberries for serving

Whisk the egg, yogurt, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl. In a different bowl whisk the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Heat a skillet to medium heat and melt some butter. Dollop the batter to make 3″-4″ blobs in the skillet (make sure to space them apart because they will expand). Dot the top of each pancake with raspberries (I try to ensure I will get one in every bite). Cook for about 4 minutes, until the edges start to solidify (check with your spatula) and a a few bubbles start to come through the top (this is a thick batter, so there won’t be a ton of bubbles). Flip and finish cooking for another 4 minutes, until the bottom is golden.

Green Scrambled Eggs with Mustard Toast

Green Eggs with Mustard Toast - Vegetal MattersThis breakfast was born out of another Sunday morning toast session at BirchTree. It is the kind of place you want to linger, so I brought a cookbook to flip through. In Bowl + Spoon, Sara has a recipe for barely creamed greens with eggs and mustard breadcrumbs, as well as a popeye protein bowl that involved scrambled egg whites, zucchini, spinach, black beans, and avocado.

Both of these recipes were combined and then adapted to fit my whims and kitchen contents. We left BirchTree with a loaf of bread for toast, and in one of my farmer’s market raids the week before I bought zucchini, kale, and eggs. This takes less than 10 minutes of effort to pull together, but is as healthful, hearty, and seasonal as a breakfast can get. And so good it bears repeating…4 days in a row. The mustard here is just meant to be a slight background brightness, not an overwhelming flavor (like a tiny smear in the best grilled cheese).

Green Scrambled Eggs with Mustard Toast

Small breakfast for 2 or hearty for 1

  • 1 cup of zucchini that has been quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup of chopped kale or other hearty green
  • 2 teaspoons of oil or butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of milk (or a splash if you are more like me in the morning)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar, or another cheese, or no cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (whole grain is extra fun)
  • 2 pieces bread

Put the bread in the toaster to your liking. Heat a small sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the sliced zucchini, and cook without disturbing for 3 minutes. Stir, and cook another 2 minutes. It should take on slight color, but not really brown.

While the zucchini is cooking crack both eggs in a bowl, add milk, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

Add the kale to the zucchini and stir. After a minute it should be just wilted and shiny. Lower the heat to medium low. Add the beaten eggs to the pan and stir. Stir every minute for 2-3 more, until the eggs are scrambled to your liking (I go until they are just cooked through but still very soft. Turn off the heat, add the cheese, and stir to combine.

Spread the mustard on the toast (you can do butter first if it’s a special morning), and serve with the egg scramble.

Hash Browns with Kale and Eggs

Hash Browns with Kale and Eggs - Vegetal MattersWithout at all meaning to, I created a signature breakfast. It started out with a latke phase a few months back, but then I realized that not trying to get everything to stick together and just calling them hash browns was far easier (plus, more crispy bits that way). What resulted has become a weekend regular around these parts: crispy, earthy potatoes, barely cooked kale, and a rich egg on top (best cut with hot sauce, if you ask me). The ingredient list is simple, but the potatoes take a bit of time to cook. The kale and eggs come together quickly after they are done. You could try doing things in more than one pan to speed up the process, but I usually make this as a lazy weekend breakfast when time is more plentiful and I can listen to a podcast while putzing around the kitchen (usually Gastropod or Startalk). Use any greens in place of kale, but I think more bitter greens go best with the potatoes.

Hash Browns with Kale and Eggs

Serves 2

  • 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes (or whatever is around)
  • .5 lb onion (about ½ a large one), any color
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided), plus extra as needed
  • 2.5 ounces kale (about 3 cups), washed and roughly chopped (any kind is fine)
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Grate the potato and onion on the largest holed side of a box grater or in a food processor. Put both in a towel and wring out as much liquid as you can. Leave them in the towel for a couple minutes, and then wring again. Mix together so the onion is evenly distributed in the potatoes.

Melt the butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a big pan (cast iron if you have it) over medium heat. Add the potatoes and onions in a ½” layer (in my 10” cast iron I usually do them in 2 batches, and add a bit more butter and oil to the pan the second time around). Season with salt and pepper. Cook them uncovered for 10-15 minutes, while stirring every 4-5 minutes. The hash browns should be mottled golden to light brown. If they are blackening quickly and still seeming raw in the middle, the pan is too dry (add some more butter, oil, or both).  When all the potatoes and onions are cooked, remove from the pan and cover to keep warm.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and let it heat for a minute. Add the chopped kale and stir to coat in the oil. Sprinkle with salt and place a lid over the pan, and let the kale cook for 1-2 minutes (stay by the pan!). The kale should look shiny, moist, and very bright green all over. If the kale starts to yellow in spots and is not uniformly bright green, it’s starting to overcook (still very edible, just not the best).

Serve topped with an egg cooked to your preference. I do them over easy, cooking for 3-4 minutes on medium high heat until the whites are mostly set, turning off the heat, flipping, and removing from the pan after another minute. Hot sauce on top encouraged.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Coffee Banana Muffins

Vegetal Matters - Whole Wheat Chocolate Coffee Banana Muffins Does anyone else love to bake with bananas, but hate to eat them plain? I used to always pilfer the sad, decaying bananas my roommates purchased for baked goods, but my current household is usually banana-free and I always forget to buy bananas to let them go bad. Tragically this almost caused me to forget about these muffins, which should be hard because they are most definitely my favorite muffins. They are equally wholesome and delicious, and almost pair better with coffee than chocolate chip cookies (but I haven’t reached the point of accepting those for breakfast quite yet). Or the excellent other half to a smoothie breakfast (which is never filling enough for me).

Whole Wheat Chocolate Coffee Banana Muffins

Adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog

This makes a lot of muffins. They freeze so well though, with just a quick warming in the microwave before consuming. Yes, they are entirely wheat flour, but light enough that you will never notice. I haven’t experimented with other kinds of flour yet, but it will happen. It may seem like a lot of liquid, but the wheat flour sucks it right up.

20-22 muffins

  • 2 1/4 (9 oz) cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1 cup banana mashed (I usually mash 2 and don’t fret if it’s a bit over or under)
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 (1.75 oz) cup sugar
  • 5 oz semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a muffin tin and a half (or bake in two batches if you only have one muffin tin like me).

Whisk wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk the oil, milk, mashed banana, coffee, vanilla, maple syrup, sugar, and egg (easiest in a quart measuring cup, or measure and transfer to a bowl). Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined (don’t overmix!). Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling each cup about three quarters full. Bake for 16-20 minutes, testing with a knife for doneness (it should come out clean, unless you spear a chocolate chip).

 

Trends: Bánh Mì Everything (and a Breakfast Sandwich)

Banh Mi BreakfastBánh mì is Vietnamese for bread, and the word has also come to define THE Vietnamese sandwich, which is a French influenced masterpiece of pâté, some kind of sliced pork product, mayonnaise, and pickled vegetables inside a baguette. Then someone figured out that the bánh mì formula of bread + protein + pickled things can be translated into many, many delicious dishes. I’ve come across burgers, tacos, alternate sandwiches, pizza, and breakfast sandwich recipes with a bánh mì spin, but the one that I crave with the most regularity is the breakfast sandwich. The bright flavor combination of spicy, fatty, and vinegary is addicting and easy enough to make a part of a regular breakfast rotation. Don’t be turned off by the ingredient list, they come together lickety-split (and disappear even faster).

Other bánh mì ideas:

The First Mess –  Kimberley’s banh mi with portobellos + pickled vegetables (vegan)

Food 52 – Banh Burgers

Heather Christo – Banh Mi Tacos with Spicy Sriracha Honey Sauce

Dula Notes – Pork Banh Mi Pizza

Banh Mi 2

Bánh Mì Breakfast Sandwiches 

Makes two, easily scaled. This does make enough pickles and mayo for 4-6 sandwiches, because I usually make the pickles and then have these sandwiches for breakfast a few days in a row since I have more English muffins and bacon as well (unless you have a source to only buy these items in twos). If you only want two servings worth of pickles and mayo, then adjust accordingly. For a vegetarian version some mushrooms would be a nice substitute for the bacon.

(adapted from Food 52)

  • 1 carrot, scrubbed and thinly sliced into coins
  • 1/2 a cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
  • 2 wheat English muffins
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 of a cup cilantro leaves (a few sprigs)

Combine the rice vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a jar. Microwave on high for 1 minute, or until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the carrot and cucumber, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (can be done the night before).  Mix the mayonnaise and  hot sauce and stir until combined. Cook both slices of bacon on medium heat until crisp and remove from pan. Toast the English muffins.  Drain all but a thin layer of the bacon fat (save it for other sauteing activities!) and cook eggs to your preferred doneness (I like over easy). Build sandwiches with a big smear of hot mayo, sliced scallions, cilantro, a slice of bacon, pickles, and an egg. NOM.

Further Reading (updated 12/1/2014): Egg and Turkey Banh Mi