Asian Breakfast Salad

I’ve gotta be honest: I struggle to make recipes that aren’t breakfast. We’ve talked about breakfast before. I love breakfast; I LIVE for breakfast; anything that isn’t breakfast is just a stepping stone on the way to my next breakfast. I’ve never understood people who go without eating breakfast. I’m like… aren’t you hungry and sad, though? Don’t you know what you’re missing?

In the U.S., we define breakfast in lots of strange, vastly different ways. When I was growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, breakfast usually meant a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice. Nothing more, nothing less. Just like you see on vintage Fruity Pebbles commercials. Some weekends, my dad would start slinging eggs, sausage, and his best-ever secret-ingredient pancakes before I even woke up.

Then, when I got to college and started filling out my schedule, breakfast started to mean whatever kinda-sweet but not-too-sweet thing I could manage to grab in my sprint towards the door. On the weekends, I’d make oatmeal. Exciting, I know.

Now that I’m a semi-functioning adult with an 8 to 5 desk job, weekday breakfast is usually one of three things: yogurt with a healthy sprinkle of my Not-Too-Sweet Granola, overnight oats in a mason jar, or a couple of hard-boiled eggs and a banana. I’m still adjusting to my schedule (read: I still can’t manage to get up in time to make and eat breakfast before I leave the house) so I almost always eat at my desk.

The real world has taken away the magic of breakfast for me, and I don’t like that. Eating at your desk or in the car or on a bus or a train or wherever isn’t your dining room table disconnects you from one of the most crucial aspects of being human. There’s something so calm and meditative about taking the time to prepare and eat a meal before launching headfirst into your day. No social media, no television—just you, your thoughts, and your breakfast.

I don’t think I’ll ever be an early riser like my dad. He wakes up at 5 or 5:30 most days. He starts his coffee, takes the dogs outside, makes himself breakfast, and eats it in the quiet kitchen while everyone else is asleep. He’s kind of a morning zen master and he doesn’t even know it. Even though I’m not going to start waking up at 5 a.m., I could still take a page out of my dad’s book. That bit of morning mindfulness has the potential to realign your whole day before it even begins.

Little by little, I’m bumping back my wake-up time so I can start fitting more mindfulness into my mornings. I’m still not there yet; I’ve bumped it back just enough so that I can actually apply my makeup before leaving instead of doing it one-handed in the car. (I figured that was probably the most important thing to start with, since applying mascara while driving is a fairly large safety hazard.) Once I’ve gotten used to this routine, I’ll bump it back a little more to fit in a real, actual breakfast.

Starting with recipes like this one.

I love oatmeal as much as the next gal, but I’m not going to pretend like I don’t get sick of it. I know there are tons of people out there who are all, “I love this so much, I could eat it every day!” Well, I’m here to tell you that I don’t think there’s one single thing on this earth that I love so much I could eat it every day. I want variety, I want interest, I want SPICE. Enter stage left: Asian Breakfast Salad.

And before you go, “But Emily, salad isn’t breakfast food!”, let me interject with, “Everything is breakfast food.” If we can eat breakfast for dinner then we can eat dinner for breakfast. Everything is an illusion, but let’s not get too meta. You would be amazed at how good you can feel if you start your day with a big dose of greens.

Plus there’s an egg, and anything with an egg is automatically breakfast. Those are the rules.

If you’re still unconvinced, that’s okay. I’ll give you time. I’ll be waiting here when you get back, and we can link arms and skip off to eat breakfast salad together.

This is a great no-fuss, prep-ahead recipe for those of you who, like me, are just trying to get it together and eat breakfast at a real table before scooting out the door. I buy pre-washed organic greens, and I prep everything the night before so I can just throw it all together and eat, no cooking necessary. The sesame vinaigrette is also a great thing to keep in your fridge for drizzling over everything throughout the week!


Asian Breakfast Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp canola or other neutral oil
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (you could also use fresh if you have it)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

For the salad

  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups mixed greens (I used baby spinach and red leaf lettuce)
  • A big handful of cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled into ribbons
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Optional: More sesame seeds

Instructions

In a small jar, mix together the dressing ingredients. Shake for 30 seconds or until emulsified. Set aside.

Crack the egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer. Use a spoon to create a whirlpool, then drop the egg in the center. Set a timer for 4 minutes and have a slotted spoon at the ready.

While the egg is poaching, assemble your salad. You know how to do this.

When the timer goes off, use the slotted spoon to scoop the egg out of the water. Run it under cold water immediately to stop the cooking process, then set it on a couple of paper towels to dry. Add it to your salad, pour over the dressing, toss together and eat!

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