Thursday, May 10, 2012

Breakfast of (Local) Champions

Cereal has never been considered a "real" breakfast in my house. Growing up, cereal was an after-school snack. Breakfast wasn't fancy or anything, but often savory and filling--toaster "pizza" (tomato sauce and mozzarella on toast), chipped beef on toast, grilled cheese, or poached or scrambled eggs.

I still love eggs for breakfast, and thanks to my generous hens, have fresh eggs almost daily (though their production has slowed quite a bit since last fall.). I often try to add cooked veggies, either to a scramble or tucked into an omelet.
Salad for breakfast!

Recently my husband got on an egg-sandwich kick. He puts a fried egg on a bagel or English muffin, topped with cheese, pickles and wilted spinach--and of course a dash of hot sauce. In my feeble attempt to lighten up the breakfast sandwich, I left out the bagel, and added more greens (I also added in a vinaigrette dressing and some bacon, go figure:), making something of a fried egg salad.

My favorite rendition of the breakfast salad was one I created for a recent article in Madison Magazine featuring Madison's incredible Dane County Farmer's Market, the largest producer-only farmer's market in the country. This version of a breakfast salad features asparagus, mushrooms, bacon and tender greens. Almost every ingredient, aside from a few dressing ingredients, are locally produced. And it is great for breakfast or dinner. (Or breakfast in bed for Mom:)

Farmer's Market Breakfast Salad
Salad ingredients:
8 slices bacon
2 tbsp oil
10 stalks asparagus
8 mushrooms, sliced
8 cups fresh mixed greens
4 eggs
About 4 oz grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan (try Sartori’s Espresso BellaVitano for a real breakfast treat)

Dressing ingredients:
2 tbsp bacon drippings
1 large shallot, thinly chopped
2 tbsp oil (try Driftless Organics sunflower oil)
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp sugar
Pinch salt

Place bacon on cookie sheet and put in oven preheated to 400 degrees. Cook bacon until crispy, about 10–14 minutes. Remove and drain on towel. Reserve about 2 tbsp bacon drippings. Chop bacon into small pieces and set aside.
To make dressing, heat reserved bacon drippings in small skillet. Add shallot and cook briefly until soft about 1–2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and place in bowl, along with the oil from the skillet. Add sunflower oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt and stir. Set aside.
Meanwhile sauté asparagus and mushroom slices with a pinch of salt over medium heat until just softened.
Evenly divide greens between plates and top with sauteed veggies and bacon bits.
Heat a skillet with oil/more drippings to fry the eggs,
ideally leaving yolks a bit runny. Top each salad with an egg, some grated parmesan and dressing.

Enjoy with fresh bread!