Vegetables for Breakfast

Elements of vegetables for breakfast: shredded dark green chard leaves, some onions and peppers already cooked, colorful chopped chard stalks, and a beaten egg.

A cooked breakfast tastes good on a cool morning, no matter what time of year. And I have been trying ways to vege it up around here first thing every day, not just at lunch or supper. When I have gobs of spinach, I like to wilt a huge pile of it and drop eggs on it, then slap a lid on to steam the eggs. A shave of Parmesan, some salt and pepper, and you have Eggs Florentine. As it happens, I am between spinach crops right now, and observed that the chard in the garden is completely out of control. Eat some and freeze some is the order of the day.

I grow the one with the different colored stalks called Bright Lights. Pink, orange, red, yellow-stemmed plants, with huge deep green leaves with brightly-colored veins through them are really gorgeous. And prolific! Inspired by the idea of a frittata, I cooked up some chard with egg for breakfast one morning this week, more chard than egg. A piece of toast, a link of sausage, and a pile of chard held loosely together with an egg made a satisfying repast.

For two of us, all I needed was one giant leaf. I stripped the leaf away from the stalk by sliding a sharp knife down each side of the center vein. I shredded the leaf and set it aside, then chopped the stalk into pieces. There were some leftover fried onions and peppers in the fridge that I fished out. I sautéed the stem pieces in a little oil but let them stay crunchy, then added the onions and peppers, warmed them through, and stirred in the leaves just until they softened a bit. The last thing was to beat one egg and add it to the pan, whirl it around a couple of times until the egg was cooked, and then I served it. Toby, the local man of the house, loved it.

Steaming-hot pan of chard and eggs moments before we ate it.

The onions and peppers made a big difference, I thought. If you want a bit more flavor, a spoonful of salsa, or some fresh chopped parsley, celery, or a shake of a favorite spice or herb, or a few shredded basil leaves would help a lot.

I thought it was awfully good. Looked pretty, too. Of course, it helps to like chard, and not to mind eating vegetables for breakfast, so I suppose this won’t work for everyone. Or maybe you’d like this better for a quick supper?

Eggs and Chard

1 to 2 chard leaves depending on size

1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil

Small onion (optional)

Half a frying pepper (optional)

Your choice of basil, oregano, parsley, garlic to taste

1 to 2 eggs per person, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Strip the green portion of the chard off the stalk, and shred. Set aside. Chop the stalk into small pieces. Heat the oil in a sauté pan or use a non-stick pan. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic, if you use them, and cook for two minutes or so over a medium heat, just until they begin to soften. Add the chard stems, and cook them for a minute or two, then add the shredded leaves. When the leaves have just wilted, add the eggs, and allow them to set, stirring once or twice. Serve.

Makes a variable number of servings.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.