Brunch Caesar Salad with Sweet Potato and Smoky Toasted Pecans

Fellow eaters of the internet: brunch makes miracles. Through brunch, we are enabled to drink champagne before 11 and get sweet and savoury on the same plate. Brunch makes the impossible possible. What I’m saying is that we need to believe in breakfast salad.  This one would look right at home as a cozy brunch side, nestled in next to some home fries, or even as a balance to a sweet dish like cornmeal waffles.

It’s a mix of kale and romaine (a borrowed combo from Oh She Glows), crispy strips of sweet potato roasted with smoked paprika, and ghee-toasted pecans flavoured with liquid smoke, topped with a crispy, pan-fried sunny side up egg. The melt-y goodness of the yolk with the crunch of the kale and nuts, and the garlic warmth in the dressing is just. so. good.

If you’re not an herbivore bound or by the unforgiving laws of the Whole30, you could double down by adding crispy bacon and maybe some shavings of old cheddar to play with the smokiness of the pecans and sweet potato.

This is an easily-doubled recipe that would also make an amazing lunch or dinner too!

Brunch Caesar Salad with Sweet Potato and Smoky Toasted Pecans
Serves 2 (double at will!)
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4 c. romaine lettuce, chopped
2 c. green kale, chopped
1/3-1/2 c. Caesar dressing of your choice, (I like Oh She Glows’ super easy recipe)
2 eggs

1 medium sweet potato, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 c. unsalted pecans
1/2 tbsp. ghee (or butter)
2-4 tsp. liquid smoke (to taste)

2-4 strips bacon (optional)
Old cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Cut your sweet potato into thin strips or french fry shapes.

2. Toss sweet potato fries with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika, tossing again to coat. Spread out in an even layer on baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. While the potatoes are baking, wash and chop the lettuce and kale, putting it in a large bowl.

4. For the pecans, melt the ghee in a medium fry pan over low heat, whisk in the liquid smoke. Add in the pecans and toss to coat. Turn up heat to medium, stirring until fragrant.  Remove from heat, but keep the pan  on the stove for the eggs.

5. Add the crispy sweet potato strips to the greens mixture, top with the dressing and toss thoroughly. Divide salad among bowls or plates, depending on how many people you’re serving. Garnish with pecans.

6. Add more ghee to the frying pan and crack your eggs, one per person, cooking until the edges of the whites are crispy, and the yolks are still runny. (Put a lid on to cook the yolk more thoroughly.)

7. Carefully lift the eggs out of the pan and serve one over each individual salad. Garnish with bacon and cheese, if adding. Enjoy!

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Whole30 Primal Egg Coffee

Egg Coffee. Invented by the Paleo/Primal crowd, (the people who also put butter and coconut oil in their java, surprise!), it’s exactly what it claims to be: eggs in your morning brew. Separately, the two words are innocent, but side-by-side they can sound wrong—like “nipple waxing” or “President Trump.” They summon images of steaming black liquid with curdled scrambled egg drifting on the surface—gross.

I HATED the idea of this recipe—it felt strange, pretentious, and downright unnecessary… That was why I had to try it! I was an old man sitting on a dilapidated front porch scowling—back in my day, the only place the two mixed was in our bellies! However, in the spirit of having an open mind and an innovative breakfast, I broke out my stovetop brewer and got cracking. And…despite my fear, I took a big whisk and went for it.

…It was actually pretty good! Slightly creamy, smooth, with a hint of cinnamon and an impulsive half teaspoon of coconut oil adding to the velvet of it. Not only THAT, but the stuff was basically rocket fuel. In the time I usually drink two coffees at work, I only finished half. I went back for a cup of coffee in the afternoon, and found my energy level was actually TOO high and had to have chamomile tea to settle my anxiety. Those Paleos might just be on to something…

Am I about to start doing this on the regular? Probably not, but I’m definitely trying it least once more to see if the rocket fuel is real…

Whole30 Primal Egg Coffee
(Adapted from Mark’s Daily Apple)
Serves 1
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2 c. brewed dark roast coffee or espresso, hot
2 eggs, free range if you can get them, room temperature*, **
Pinch sea salt
1/2 – 1 tsp. coconut oil (optional)
Cinnamon (optional)

1. Crack two eggs in a small mixing bowl, whisking vigorously until slightly frothy. In the meantime, brew the coffee.

2. When the coffee is finished, slowly pour the finished brew into the eggs, whisking as you go so the eggs don’t cook. Pour and whisk simultaneously (go! go! go!) until the coffee is fully incorporated and the mixture is frothy.

3. Add the pinch of salt, as well as the coconut oil and cinnamon, if including. Whisk again to incorporate.

4. Pour into your favourite mug, have no fear, and take a sip!

*Note: if you decide to go nuts like me and try this, it’s one of the few times I’m going to recommend “free range” or organic anything. It’s a privilege we can’t all afford, but when a recipe only has four or five ingredients, I like to think the way to ensure its success within that simplicity is getting the best ingredients—but only if they’re within your budget!

**To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before you crack them!

Simple Mexican Shakshuka

Day 15. I’m officially half way through the Whole30 challenge. I’m going strong, and while I’m not missing too many foods, I am missing certain meals… specifically brunch. So rather than mourning the pancakes or waffles I’m not eating right now, I kicked up my breakfast game at home this weekend.

This dish is quick, simple, and it looks fancy if you carry it to the table while it’s all hot and bubbly, like delicious tomato lava. The hardest part of this shakshuka might be all of the chopping prep you have to do, but a few minutes of work will render a fragrant, saucy dish that is comforting and tasty with familiar flavours.

It’s also easy to freestyle and remix. Seriously, this is not a recipe so much as a guideline. Try subbing  crushed tomatoes for diced, substitute half for salsa, top with cheese (let me nosh vicariously), or add more veggies of your choice (corn? black beans? delicious!) into the starting sautee and really make if your own.

Simple Mexican Shakshuka
(Adapted from FoodFaithFitness)
Serves 2-4
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1 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 whole Vidalia onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
4-6 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 to 1 tbsp. taco seasoning (I like this homemade one from Budget Bytes), to taste
3-4 c. crushed tomatoes
1-4 large eggs
Salt and Pepper
Chili flakes
For garnish: green onions, avocados, cilantro, lime, hot sauce, cheese. whatever you want!

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On the stove top, melt coconut oil in a medium ovenproof frying pan. Add garlic and onions, stirring over medium heat until soft and fragrant. Add in bell peppers, stirring until slightly softened, then add the fresh chopped tomatoes.

2. Sprinkle the vegetables with taco seasoning and stir to distribute. Add the crushed tomatoes, stirring, and bring to a gentle simmer. Taste the seasonings and add more salt, pepper, or spices to your taste.

3. Turn off the heat. Making wells in the sauce, crack 1-4 eggs into the tomato mixture making wells to hold them* (see note). 

4. Slide the pan into the oven and bake until mixture is bubbly and eggs are baked, about 10-15 minutes. (You can also cook the eggs stove top by covering the pan with a lid, with a shorter cooking time.)

5. When eggs are baked, remove from oven, spoon into dishes and garnish with your toppings of choice. Enjoy the shakshuka alone, or served with tasty sides like refried beans, rice, or tortillas.

*Note:
 if cooking for one, decide on the number of eggs you want and crack those in. After baking, carefully remove the cooked eggs with half of the tomato mixture into your bowl. Reserve the second half of the mixture for round two! Ta da, delicious leftovers. Just add fresh eggs and bake away—the reheated kind ain’t no fun.

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