- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Not bothering to eat breakfast saves time, but just a few minutes spent preparing something nourishing is time well spent. We’ve all heard explanations of the benefits of a good breakfast, that it provides energy and stamina, and they are correct.

The following recipes give early birds three choices. Each of them needs only a short preparation, but any of them will give the day a hearty start.

The first two have avocados, and the third has beans and sweet potatoes, to add nutrition and a variation to basic preparations.

Egg-tortilla scramble with avocado

The preparation time is 10 minutes, and the cooking time is 10 minutes.

1 ripe avocado (about 8 ounces)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup diced red bell pepper

6 eggs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

3/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce

½ teaspoon salt

3/4 cup broken tortilla chips

½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Bacon strips or curls, optional

Cut avocado lengthwise around the pit; twist halves to separate; spear pit with a knife, twist and pull to remove; gently scoop out flesh with a spoon; dice avocado (makes about 1 cup), and set it aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add bell pepper; cook and stir until onion begins to brown, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, cilantro, hot sauce and salt. Add to mixture in skillet along with tortilla-chip pieces. Cook, stirring gently until eggs are set but still soft. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and remove from heat; let stand until cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute. Divide mixture among four plates; top with reserved avocado. Serve with bacon strips or curls, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Bagels with avocado spread and smoked salmon

The preparation time is 10 minutes.

1 ripe avocado (about 8 ounces)

1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice

⅛ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon cracked or ground black pepper

2 large bagels, split horizontally

2 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

Onion rings, thinly sliced (optional garnish)

Cut avocado lengthwise around pit; twist halves to separate; spear pit with a knife, and twist and pull to remove; gently scoop out flesh with a spoon; transfer to a medium-sized bowl.

Mash avocado; stir in onion, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Cut bagel halves crosswise to make 8 pieces; spread evenly with avocado mixture. Top with salmon slices, and garnish with thin onion rings, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Herbed bean-and-sweet-potato hash

This hash is good on its own or can become a feast, topped with a poached or sunny-side-up egg, with a slice of cantaloupe on the side.

The preparation and cooking time is about 30 minutes.

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

4 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato (½-inch cubes)

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1½ tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1 to 1½ tablespoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

15-ounce can dark red kidney beans, or 1½ cups cooked dry-packaged dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

15-ounce can small red beans or 1½ cups cooked dry-packaged small red beans, rinsed and drained

½ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet; add sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic and herbs. Cook, covered, over medium heat until vegetables are tender, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mash beans coarsely; stir into vegetable mixture and cook until hot through, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings of about 1 cup each.

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