Today’s menu: light, fluffy scrambled eggs hidden under a thin layer of gooey cheese and a fire-alarm salsa. Salsa made of tangy, crisp cactus, rich heirloom tomatoes, blazing red and green jalapeno peppers, bold onion and garlic, avocado, cilantro, and a refreshing squeeze of lime. Also being served: airy, flaky croissants that melt in your mouth bathed in caramel-sweet clover honey that runs across your tongue and cools it from the jalapeno heat.
Would you be surprised if I told you that every single ingredient can be found at Sacramento’s downtown farmers’ market? Indeed, I can think of no heartier brunch, and at seasonal bargain prices, it’s sure to please both palette and wallet. Every last ingredient, right down to the olive oil you use to sauté, comes from our beloved local farmers.
This meal was inspired by the seasonal ingredient at the market, but also by a recent visit to New Mexico, where I discovered the cooling properties of honey eaten after a spicy meal. Ingenious! The lighter-than-air sopapillas that are popularly served post-meal there inspired my pairing with fresh croissants. They truly need to be baked that morning to even come close to the wonderful sopapilla quality (day-olds just won’t cut it). I think it’s a fair substitution. And once you’ve enjoyed this honey and heat combination, you’ll be hooked!
The following recipe is written in the order I recommend preparing your meal for brunch.
Farmers’ Market Brunch featuring:
Scrambled Eggs under Cactus & Jalapeno Salsa with Honeyed Croissants
· 2 Freshly baked croissants
· 4 tablespoons local clover honey, divided
· 1 Tablespoon olive oil
· 1 cactus paddle, diced
· 1 medium onion, diced
· 2 green jalapenos, finely diced
· 2 red jalapenos, finely diced
· 1 large clove of garlic, minced
· 1 large heirloom tomato, diced
· 2 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
· 1 avocado, sliced
· Juice from 1 lime
· Freshly grated black pepper to taste
· 6 farm fresh organic eggs
· 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
· 2 oz. grated Monterey jack cheese
Set one croissant on the edge of each serving plate. Pour 2 tablespoons of honey into a small dipping bowl and set one next to each croissant on the plate.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Begin dicing your veggies while the pan heats. Add olive oil, and then the cactus, onion, and jalapenos. Sauté until onions begin to turn translucent and the cactus begins to darken in color, about 5 minutes (or the amount of time it will take you to prep your avocado and cilantro and clean your cutting board). Now add the garlic and allow to sauté for 2 minutes more. Turn off heat. Prepare your scrambled eggs (below). When they have finished, stir the tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice into the cool sauté pan.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Crack eggs into a small mixing bowl. Poke each yolk with the tip of a whisk, and then whisk until well blended. Drop the butter into the skillet and when it has melted, pour in the eggs. Your pan should be hot enough that you need to scrape the bottom of the pan frequently, but not so hot that you are scraping constantly. It should take 4 to 6 minutes, depending on how you like your scrambled eggs. Remember: they’ll keep cooking after you turn off the heat. When your eggs are done (they should glisten with moisture, but not be runny), turn off the heat and sprinkle with grated cheese. Place a lid over the skillet for about 1 minute to allow the cheese to melt.
Spoon scrambled eggs onto the serving plates next to the croissants. Top each egg with a generous portion of the Cactus Salsa, followed by the sliced avocados. Serve immediately with juice and coffee. Remind your diners that the honey will cool their mouths from the heat of the salsa, so don’t eat your croissant first!
This recipe serves two.
Tip: If you have any leftover salsa, seal it in a glass jar in your fridge. It tastes great with tortilla chips as a snack. In fact, I sometimes serve the extra salsa in a bowl in the middle of the table with chips as part of the brunch in case folks are still hungry (which my husband always is!). It’s best eaten that same day.