Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vegetables for Breakfast...

     I've been noodling over the idea of vegetables for breakfast lately.  How many vegetables do you think about as breakfast food?  Potatoes of course.  Maybe onions, or spinach or asparagus.  Now what would you do if you didn't have any eggs?  Because that was the boat I was in on Father's Day...  My farmer's market is on Sunday.  I used the last egg on Saturday.  I had some duck eggs, but hubby doesn't like them a super lot.  I use them for baking, which they are awesome for.  So rich!  But anyway, I was down to a few veg and that was about it.

Let me further explain by showing you this:

Strawberry Cake with Blueberry Frosting and Strawberry Frosting Filling.  
Looks OK from the outside, right?

And this:

See how thick that frosting is?  Yeah...  My cake had some issues...

     Hubby's birthday was last week.  He loves strawberry cake.  I would rather lick my shoe than eat a boxed strawberry cake.  So I endeavored to make him one.  I picked a yellow cake recipe and subbed strawberries in syrup (homemade of course) for the milk.  Apparently milk is important because it totally sank in the middle.  But oh my gosh was it delicious!  I will be revising this ugly duckling for sure.  At any rate, following the collapsed (if delicious) Birthday cake fiasco, I was hoping to make him something that was delicious and beautiful for Father's Day.

So I made this:

Hello, Gorgeous...

Pastry on the bottom, vegetables in the middle, bacon, and homemade herbed ricotta on top.  I will never be sad we're out of eggs again.  This could be called a "tart," I suppose.  I'm just calling it "brekky."

This particular recipe took a long time to make.  If you make the dough a day ahead and use leftovers for the filling, everything will go much faster the day of.  As it was, I didn't have any leftovers suitable, plus, he was sleeping in, so I had time.

The vegetables I had were potatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus, onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  And bacon.  A highly underrated vegetable. I made an oatmeal crust following Mark Bittman's recipe in his book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (p.866). 

Father's Day Brekky
Oatmeal Crust:
1/2 C + 2Tbs white flour
1/4 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C oatmeal
8 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 Tbs ice water, plus more if necessary

1 medium sweet potato, peeled
1 medium white potato, peeled
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
2 pieces of bacon
4 button mushrooms
1 bundle of asparagus
olive oil (a drizzle here, a drizzle there...)

Herbed Homemade Ricotta Cheese:
1 C cream
2 C whole milk
1 1/2 T lemon juice

Make the ricotta.  I already had some in my fridge.  I used this recipe from Zestuous.  It would definitely help to make this the day before.  Even though the process is quick (about 35 minutes), it will add quite a bit of time to the process for this recipe if you make it the same day.  And can I just say here that this is the best ricotta cheese I've ever had in my entire life?  You will never want to use store-bought again.  Save the milk, too.  It's to die for.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Begin by making the crust:
Combine the four, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse once or twice.  Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.

Put the mixture in a bowl and add 3 Tbs ice water; mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of the ice water if neccessary (if you overdo it and the mixture becomes sodden, add a little more more flour).  Form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  (You can refrigerate for up to a couple of days or freeze for up to a couple of weeks.)

Next, make potatoes:
Thinly slice sweet and white potatoes, lightly toss in olive oil and salt, cover with aluminum foil, and put into preheated oven.  I put mine on two different sheets in case they took different times cooking.

Begin onions:
Thinly slice with a mandolin if possible, and caramelize over low heat (can take up to 1/2 hour).

While onions are caramelizing, chop bacon roughly, mince mushrooms, and thinly slice asparagus to about 1/2 inch.


At this point, put garlic on a little foil and drizzle with a splash of olive oil.  Wrap garlic and place on top rack of oven with potatoes.

Once onions have finished, remove to a medium sized bowl and fry bacon pieces until crispy, and put those in a small bowl.  Wash pan and sauté mushrooms in a tad bit of olive oil, put those in the medium bowl with the onions, then heat the asparagus until slightly softened and add to veggie bowl.

Check potatoes and garlic for doneness...  If potatoes are tender (don't worry if some have gotten a little crispy), remove to a cutting board and chop into small pieces.  Add to veggie bowl.  If garlic is tender, squish from skin and mash lightly.  Add to veggie bowl.  Lower oven to 350°.

Stir contents of veggie bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Use one heaping tsp of ricotta cheese per tart you plan to make and 1/2 tsp of thyme per every six tarts.  Combine ricotta and thyme.

Once dough has finished resting, roll it out and cut rounds to fill the cupcake tin cups (I found I needed to knead the dough a few times to encourage it to hold together, less than a minute, I'd say...).  I used a glass with a diameter of about 3 1/2 inches which ended up being nearly perfect for my standard size cupcake tins.

Fill the cups with veggies, top with bacon (or not) and add a dollop of the ricotta cheese mixture.  Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes, until crust is done.  Let cool slightly in pan, then pop them out with a butter knife.  Serve with a little fruit.

Tadaaaaa!  I probably could have gotten a dozen of these puppies made if one of my kids hadn't sneezed on the second half of the dough.  So we ended up with six.  I really wanted those other six.

This would be much easier if you had some leftovers to fill it with.  Cooked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, left-over steamed veggies, maybe even leftover garbanzo beans or lentils...  Use whatever filling you like, these will be fabulous.

One kid wouldn't touch it.  The other kid had a couple of bites, but decided to save himself for the samples at the farmer's market.  Hubby and I wonder what's wrong with these kids sometimes because these were fantastic!  The homemade ricotta just makes it.  The pastry is perfect, the veggies are wonderful, and hubby says the bacon adds a nice "breakfasty" touch to the whole proceeding.  The sweet potatoes are a lovely way to have a little something sweet for breakfast without any added sugar.

PS, Happy First Day of Summer to those of you who live where Summer happens!  For us up here in the Pacific Northwest a big, Hey, Wazzup Juneuary?!  Maybe we'll break 60 today!


  1. first of all, that cake looks outrageously delicious! that frosting! yum!! and finally, those little breakfast cups look so yummy!! what a great tasty way to start the day!

    1. Caralyn, you are too kind... That poor cake... tsk tsk tsk... But the frosting was fantastic! I'm pretty sure Cara has a gluten free pastry recipe on her blog somewhere if you don't already have one then you could try it out, too!

  2. Amazing recipe! They look like mini vegetable muffins, perfect for a festive breakfast. Will try very soon. And also, I can't wait for the ugly duckling strawberry cake to turn into a swan...looking forward to your recipe.

    1. Yeah, a little like a muffin, more like a pie, I think. And who doesn't want pie for breakfast? =) Let me know how you like it! I'm sure my husband can't wait for me to work on the ugly ducking cake, too! Hah!

  3. Wow, I am gonna love this!! This is a great way to feed veggies to my..... uh, huh, not the kids.... husband! Wonderful recipe!!

    1. I hope your whole family enjoys it, Purabi!

  4. I'll have to remember these veggie tarts for Thanksgiving. It looks like a great way to use up some leftovers!

    1. You are right on Riley! I did something very similar to this last Thanksgiving. Instead of the ricotta on top though, I put a pastry crust on top to make a mini pot pie! I popped them in the freezer for later on. It was the perfect way to get rid of leftovers! You could also do a shepherd's pie with left-over mashed potatoes on top. I do loves me some Thanksgiving left-overs!

  5. That is one killer brekky! Love the idea of so much vegetables for breakfast.
    Your strawberry cake looks super duper good too! All pretty with the frosting and beautiful strawberry on top.

    1. The cake was yummy, but the blueberry frosting was too much. I think I'll save it for a plain (non fruit) cake next time!

  6. Looks so delicious... I have to say I'm intrigued by the homemade ricotta, I'm thinking cannolis!

    1. I would go so far as to say cannolis were invented for homemade ricotta! It's so lemony and sweet all by itself it barely needs any sugar. You will love it!

  7. I would happily eat this cake - thick icing is never an issue for me! Your brekky looks simply scrumptious. All those yummy veggies in an oatmeal crust, no less? Mmmm-mmm. Happy summer to you!

    1. It's not the thick icing so much as the thin cake... =) But the oatmeal crust is FAB!

  8. What a delicious meal! Vegetables for breakfast? Yes please!

    1. I know, right? I gotta figure out some more...


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