Yesterday morning when I woke up around six a.m. to let our dog out, it was unseasonably warm: 40° and overcast. Four hours later, close to a foot of heavy wet snow blanketed the ground, and the temperatures were hovering around -6°. Classic Montana weather patterns. Between the frigid temperatures and a weekend spent eating heavy rich foods, both Adam and I were feeling sluggish. Ready for a bright fresh breakfast to clear our heads and palates, I put together a colorful asparagus and spinach scramble, with a garlicky, limey tomato salsa.
When planning meals, I find that my process is somewhat backwards from other home cooks. I am a very emotional eater, in that some nights I crave a warm or comforting meal, while others I feel energized and crave something light and crisp. I think that most of us prefer to have flexibility in both our cooking and our lives; therefore, I find it important to have a constant selection of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand for smoothies, chop salads and roasting. Every Sunday, I purchase a wide array to use throughout the week. Avocado, kale, raspberries, spinach, arugula, cucumber, zucchini, tomato, sweet potato, onion, and some fresh herbs (usually thyme and mint, for savory and sweet) are versatile favorites. Lemons and limes are also crucial, as they play key roles in dressing salads or adding pizzazz to a sauce or smoothie.
Once I have an assortment of fresh produce on hand, I will peruse my cookbook selection, Pinterest, or other culinary food blogs, for ideas and inspiration. In some instances, the extent of my research is running a Google search for a list of ingredients I have on hand, just to see what comes up. In my daily cooking, it is a rare occurrence for me to follow a recipe exactly, simply because I rarely find that the contents of my fridge or pantry exactly match a recipe’s required ingredients. It is wasteful to both my time and pocketbook to make multiple trips to the store, which adds up considerably at $20-40 per trip, when there are perfectly delightful fruits and vegetables waiting in my crisper back home that could easily be substituted. Through experience in the kitchen, one develops an understanding of which flavor profiles work well together, and I incorporate that knowledge into creating dishes that use every last scrap of produce from our refrigerator. Waste not, want not, as my grandmother used to say.
In this instance of this scramble, I drew inspiration from Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Egg White Scramble with Spicy Tomato Salsa. However, I used whole eggs rather than egg whites. There are plenty of health benefits to be found in eating egg yolks, from supporting healthy vision to liver function- not to mention the myriad benefits of the B-complex vitamin choline. I also had a dwindling package of asparagus, and some bulk spinach picked up from the local real food store, both of which are perfect additions to an egg scramble for both their extra bulk, and flavor.
Asparagus + Spinach Scramble With Garlicky Tomato
Asparagus + Spinach Scramble:
6 spears of asparagus, chopped into inch-long pieces
1 large handful fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 organic eggs [Note: here is a great primer on what different designations mean on egg cartons.]
1 tablespoon of whole milk
1 tablespoon of butter or other fat
Fresh chives, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet and add the chopped asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté for about four minutes, until your preferred consistency (I like mine with a bit of crunch). In a separate bowl, whisk together the two eggs and the milk. Pour the eggs into the skillet and scramble with the asparagus. While the eggs have firmed up around the edges but still remain slightly creamy, add in the chopped spinach. This technique will result in a wilted spinach scramble. I generally prefer my spinach on the “raw” side, so I have also served the final egg dish atop a bed of spinach. Remove to plate, sprinkle with fresh chives, and top with garlicky tomatoes.
1 Roma tomatoes (or similar), diced
2 cloves garlic, grated*
1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped
Juice of one lime
Sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste.
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well, and season to taste. Note that two cloves of fresh garlic has a strong garlicky taste; for those who may not wish to frighten the vampires away from the remainder of the day, use only one clove. Serve with asparagus scramble.
*NOTE: As a frequent – and heavy – user of garlic, I prefer to grate all of my garlic with a microplane zester rather than chop finely with a knife. When chopping with a knife, my fingers smell of garlic for days, no matter how many times I wash them with dishsoap, rub them with lemon juice or against the blade of a stainless steel knife, or any other of a host of old wive’s tales claiming to remove the odor. To grate with the zester, I hold the zester over the bowl and rub the garlic against it so that it squishes through the zester and into the bowl. This produces more a purée of garlic than a fine dice, but I prefer that (as do my fingers).
I served the scramble and tomatoes with a side of Applegate bacon and a green smoothie (blackberry, kefir, cucumber, spinach, wheatgrass, pineapple, banana, and mint). We loved this satisfying dish, feeling sated upon finishing eating but not too full to move (as can easily be the case with a Saturday morning breakfast…). Enjoy!