Saturday, December 19, 2009

Migas: The breakfast you've been waiting for



There's a cookbook out there with the brilliant title I am Almost Always Hungry. I think it highly unfair for someone to have stolen MY ideal book title (not that I had thought of it before, but still). It wouldn't necessarily have to be a cookbook, though; it could be my autobiography.


I am especially almost always hungry just as I arrive at work, which is unfortunate as I a) have just eaten breakfast, b) won't be having lunch for several hours, and c) am surrounded by sweets and food that I am not supposed to eat. To mitigate this regrettable circumstance, I try to have a nourishing, protein packed meal before leaving for work to stave off the inevitable starvation a tad longer. But I can't always face a plate of eggs first thing in the morning. It is times like these that I call upon migas.

I found migas in Deborah Madison's spectacular tome Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which has the same breadth of recipes as the Joy of Cooking without the jell-o molds, microwave instructions, and recipes labeled 'cockaigne' (what on earth does that mean, anyway?) As the title infers, the book is purely vegetarian. I am not vegetarian (you saw all those bacon posts, right?) but I do like to eat lots of vegetables, cheese, grains, legumes, fruit, and desserts, and this book covers all of that and more in an abundance of stylish, straightforward recipes.


You can put all the veggies you want in migas, a tex-mex dish related in theory to chilaquiles. Tortilla strips get crisped in oil, then sauteed with eggs, vegetables and salsa, and topped with all the lovely things you would want them topped with: avocado, cheese, sour cream, and more salsa. Fresh corn, strips of bell pepper, diced tomatoes, roasted green chiles, spinach, summer squash, and ribbons of cabbage all go beautifully, while adding color and healthiness (similar to 'truthiness?') to the dish. We almost always have a container of salsa and a stack of corn tortillas in the fridge ready and waiting to disguise eggs as a vibrant, nourishing, and appealing repast.


One morning, my mexican co-workers asked what I'd had for breakfast and I excitedly began describing migas to them. They snickered among themselves, then informed me that hormigas are ants en español.

I hope you enjoy these migas as much as I do. Feel free to add your own flair; but please, hold the formicidae.


Migas

Serves 2 generously

While the original recipe called for adding salsa to the tortilla strips and eggs, we've found that they stay crispier if you just use the salsa as a garnish when the migas are done cooking. Use any vegetables you like in place of or in addition to the zucchini and cabbage, such as fresh corn, strips of bell pepper, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted green chiles, spinach or chard. Any mild melting or crumbling cheese goes well, including queso fresco, jack, goat gouda, and fresh chevre.

2 corn tortillas, cut into approximately 2 x 1" strips
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as olive or sunflower
1/2 onion, any color, or 1 medium leek, chopped
1 large zucchino, chopped
a cup or two finely shredded cabbage
3 eggs
a few ounces cheese, crumbled or grated
1/4 cup or more tomato salsa (we love Primavera's organic roasted tomato)

Preheat your broiler.

In a 9 or 10" skillet over medium heat, cook the tortilla strips in a tablespoon of oil until golden and crisp-ish, about ten minutes (they will crisp up more upon cooling). Season with a few pinches of salt, and tip out into a bowl or plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the onions, and saute until tender and golden, another ten minutes or so. Add the veggies and saute until tender, five or ten minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Whisk the eggs with a few pinches of salt to break them up, then pour into the skillet with the veggies, adding oil first if the pan looks dry. Cook as you would a scramble, adding the tortilla strips when the eggs are about halfway cooked. When the eggs are done, sprinkle the cheese over the top and put the whole pan under the broiler for a few minutes to melt it. Serve with your toppings of choice.

Some possible toppings and sides:

avocado or guacamole
sour cream, crema, yogurt or creme fraiche
epazote, cilantro, basil, mint or parsley
shredded lettuce
shredded red or green cabbage
tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
slivered red onion or scallions
cilantro or basil pesto
sourkraut or escabeche
black or pinto beans


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