Thursday, April 18, 2013

Veggie Loaded Huevos Rancheros

This Veggie Loaded Huevos Rancheros recipe is inspired by my brunch at Esperanto last Saturday.  Sitting blissfully at a corner table next to large open windows on this warm(er) spring day, my two friends and I were thoroughly content as we made our way through fresh guava mimosas and a delightful huevos rancheros plate layered with crispy tortilla, soft eggs, and ample black beans & pico de gallo. As we stood up to leave, I felt a feeling I've never felt before after a leisurely weekend (and slightly hungover) restaurant brunch: I was perfectly satisfied. No bursting at the seams, cant-wait-to-unbutton-my-jeans i'm soooo full feeling. I might actually be hungry again in a few hours.

I attribute this feeling to the nature of Latin American cuisine (Esparanto is Brazilian). While American (most notably, Southern) style brunch is often loaded with heavy cheese, pork-stuffed in every place possible, and bursting with butter, carbs and cholesterol, the Latin American reliance on spice rather than fat makes it a much lighter option in the brunch circuit. Instead of reaching for butter or syrup to top off our meal, the ultimate huevos rancheros condiment is hot sauce; packing a fiery punch at 0 cals. The hallmarks of huevos rancheros—fiberous black beans, veggie-chocked pico de gallo, whole-grain corn tortillas—are totally low cal and healthy; and deserve the credit for saving you from the (third trimester) food baby a lot of us feel after brunch. Of course, the healthiness of your meal will vary depending on the amount of oil and cheese used in its preparation, which is why making your own version at home is the perfect way to go!

Inside my own kitchen, the ravenous vegivore inside me hungered for more green. To satisfy my feisty craving, I did a quick saute of diced zucchini and onion to add an extra veggie-filled layer to my huevos rancheros. The result was exactly what I was looking for: the zucchini not only paired seamlessly with the pico de gallo and beans; but gave me more to munch on (sans added cals) as I stacked my tortilla high.

You can cheese up this recipe to your own liking—I recently realized that I am not as big of a fan of cheese (GASP) as some of my other friends. Don't get me wrong, I like cheese a lot! And I used to say I love it until I saw the sheer delight that my peers consume blocks of it with and realized well...I don't like it THAT much! For this recipe, it's fun to sprinkle a layer of shredded cheese atop each layer—after the egg, then veggies, then salsa, then beans—and finally one on top. That being said, be mindful of how much you use—I recommend no more than 1/4 cup a serving of low-calorie cheese. Because I am just a cheese liker and not a cheese lover, I only sprinkled my cheese atop the egg as it was cooking for melty yummy perfection.

The spiciness of this recipe begs for a sweet brunch cocktail alongside it. I loved my guava mimosa; how about a blood orange screwdriver? Muddled fruit caipirinha? Morning sangria? Which one will you choose to accompany your picante breakfast plate?

Veggie Loaded Huevos Rancheros
Serves 2

2/3 cup diced tomato
1 jalapeño, minced
2 tbsp diced onion + 1/4 cup (for zucchini mixture)
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup drained black beans
1/2 cup shredded cheese (reduced fat cheddar or Trader Joe's Shredded Lite Mexican Blend)
2 large whole wheat or corn tortillas
2 eggs
Hot Sauce (optional)

1. Prepare pico de gallo. Mix diced tomato, jalapeño, 2 tbsp onion, cilantro, lime juice, and generous sprinkle of salt & pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Prepare zucchini mixture. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and 1/4 cup onion and saute (stirring frequently), uncovered, until onions soften and zucchini begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and set aside in a small bowl.

3. Prepare tortilla. In a toaster oven, bake tortilla at 425 degrees until it browns and crisps, almost to the point of burning. (If you don't have a toaster oven you can do this in a regular oven or crisp via stovetop in the large skillet over high heat, covered, turning over once.) Place tortilla on serving plate.

4. Cook eggs. Spray large skillet with cooking spray or coat with an olive oil mister over high heat. Crack eggs over pan. When edges start to brown and crackle (about 1-2 minutes) gently flip eggs over, being careful not to break the yolk. Cook for another 2 minutes, and then set atop respective tortillas.

5. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of cheese over the egg. Divide zucchini mixture evenly over two tortillas, and add another tbsp of cheese. Add beans to each tortilla along with a third tbsp of cheese. Top off tortillas with evenly divided pico de gallo, and garnish with last tablespoon of cheese. Serve with hot sauce, if desired. Buen Provecho!

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