I have become increasingly obsessed with breakfast, my favourite meal of the day. As soon as I wake, and sometimes before I go to sleep, my thoughts are of what to have for the first meal of the day. As I fill my old stovetop coffee maker with scoops of espresso (sadly now decaf) and cold, clear water from the tap; and mark time as I wait for the telltale hiss and splutter, I survey the innards of my fridge. Is today a plump berries and creamy yogurt day? Or, – more likely – that Instagram cliche, #avocadotoast, built to height with glowing, orange homemade kimchi and a flurry of sprouts?
There are so many ways to go with breakfast. Sweet or savoury. Simple or leisurely. Alone or shared. Virtuous or vice-ridden (avo toast v. cigarette and hair of the dog). I love all of the options that breakfast invites.
Few have expectations of breakfast beyond quick fuel and a soupçon of nourishment. So, going beyond the bounds of cold buttered toast eaten in the car, or a hurried bowl of processed flakes – the vitamins magicked back in by automated hands – seems wonderfully decadent. This despite the fact that breakfast, even one to be eaten with a full set of cutlery and a bevy of bottles and jars ripe with jams and savoury condiments, is about simple. Unless of course you are at a good hotel and being tortured between choosing the omelette bar and the waffle station: Not so simple.
Lately I have been crushing a bit on eggs Benedict. Not the true Benedict though, a hangover cure of “some buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs, and a hooker of hollandaise sauce” ordered in 1894 by Lemuel Benedict at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. Mostly I favour it with wilted baby spinach or griddled asparagus. Or smoked Scottish salmon if I really crave savoury. The key is that sauce: a fat emulsion of egg yolk and melted butter, usually enlivened with lemon juice, salt, and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper. Few savoury foods would not be enhanced under a pelt of this smooth, creamy sauce.
But the calories. The fat. My arteries.
I have made hollandaise a few times, but have been abhorred, even in my younger, less nutrition-wise years, at the great wodge of butter needed to make this classic sauce. It tastes wonderful, and the whole breakfast fills you far longer than a less fat-stuffed breakfast would. But healthy it will never be.
Unless hollandaise had a whole food makeover.
Eggs smothered in a blanket of blended butternut squash sounds odd, but read on and I will hopefully convince. Some of the other players are present: lemon juice, cayenne pepper. Add in savoury superstar white miso, sharp Dijon, a hint of butter and you’ve got yourself a sauce. You won’t fool yourself or anyone else but, honestly, the texture and the essence of that mouth-filling unctuousness of the original is there. And really quite nice.
Play with it a little to tweak to your liking. Maybe more miso; perhaps more water. Nail it and luxurious breakfasts, with limitless savoury combinations, are yours for the blending.
What is your favourite breakfast makeover tip?
Butternut Squash Hollandaise with Egg, Shiitake and Chard
Blend steamed butternut squash with a few key ingredients and you have a credible whole food hollandaise sauce for topping your eggs, veggies, pasta – and anything else that takes your fancy. Once made, this sauce will be your go-to for luxurious but nutritious breakfasts, and more. xx
Whole Food Squash Hollandaise
225g butternut squash or other winter squash such as dumpling (shown), peeled, deseeded and cubed
Juice of 1/2 small lemon – more to taste
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white or yellow miso
20-30g organic salted butter, melted – optional
Very hot water, to thin
Cayenne pepper or white pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
2 tsp coconut oil or olive oil
100g shiitake mushrooms or other mushrooms, thinly sliced
100g chard, kale or spinach, washed and thick stems removed, leaves chopped
2 organic eggs for poaching
Bread for toasting
1. To make the hollandaise-ish sauce, steam the squash cubes for 8 minutes and blend with the lemon juice, mustard, miso and butter. Add warm water to thin as you wish, and cayenne or pepper to taste.
2. For the rest, heat the the oil in a saute pan or wok and add the mushrooms. Saute, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes then add the chopped greens. Stir the vegetables and cook until the greens are soft – about five minutes for chard and kale, two for spinach. Meanwhile, poach the eggs and slide the bread into the toaster.
3. Gently reheat the hollandaise if you like, then top the toast with your sauteed veggies, egg and a fat dollop of hollandaise-ish sauce. Store the remaining sauce for up to five days.
Portions of Vegetable/Fruit per serving: 2-3.
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I have LOADS of breakfast and brunch recipes on Food To Glow, but here are a few of the more unusual ones. Check this master link to ALL of my breakfast posts.
Spring Vegetable Brunch Pancake (gluten-free; shown below)
Other savoury, vegetarian breakfasts from fellow food bloggers
Beetroot Green and Cabbage Muthiya (delicious sounding Gujarati steamed vegetable dumplings)