A couple of months ago, some special girlfriends and I decided to go on a cruise together. We were celebrating the 10th anniversary of our book club and felt that a sailing down the coast to Ensenada was an appropriate celebration of that milestone. It was four days of laughing, lounging and lavish eating (and ironically, no book reading). We had a ball.
If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know the drill: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon tea, dinner, dessert, midnight buffet, sleep. Repeat. Who needs shore excursions?
You may know that normally I am not a huge fan of breakfast. The later in the day, the more interesting the food, it seems. But imagine a breakfast entrée that is delicious, nutritious and makes you feel like you are on vacation. If you are imagining Eggs Benedict, you would be right.
I know I’ve had Eggs Benedict in the past; but there was something about having it nearly every morning on the cruise that has made me re-think my opinion of breakfast. I loved the savory ham and wobbly egg perched atop the crisp English muffin, all blanketed under the creamy Hollandaise sauce. Even better: I didn’t have to cook it.
Since coming back to reality, I’ve resumed my same-old, same-old breakfasts: oatmeal, fruit smoothies or whole-grain toast with almond butter. Eggs Benedict was a wonderful vacation fling, but really, who can eat a rich breakfast like that every day?
Poking around on a website called thekitchn.com for some pumpkin recipes (cooler weather is coming, I just know it), I discovered a recipe for easy Eggs Benedict. Ahoy! And it was a lightened up, healthier version. Land ho! I had to try it.
While it seems there are a lot of moving parts in the recipe, the bacon (and even the eggs) can be prepped the night before and re-heated. The rest comes together fairly quickly. I found it to be a yummy start to my day and when I closed my eyes, I could almost smell the ocean.
Lighter Eggs Benedict with Mock Hollandaise
8 slices smoked turkey bacon
4 whole wheat English muffins, split in half
2 tablespoons butter, softened (optional)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
8 large eggs
For the mock hollandaise:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
2 cups kale or spinach leaves
8 thick tomato slices, patted dry
Kosher salt, pepper, paprika
Preheat to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon strips in a single layer. Cook on the middle rack for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the slices reach your desired crispness. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and discard foil.
Arrange the English muffin halves on a separate baking sheet. Cook until toasted and lightly golden, about 8-10 minutes. Spread with softened butter, if desired. Lower oven temp to 170° (or warming temperature). Hold English muffins and bacon until eggs are poached and ready to assemble.
While the bacon is cooking, fill a medium to large saucepan with 1-1/2 to 2 inches of water and 2 teaspoons white vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low; water should maintain a few occasional bubbles. Crack each egg into a small dish or ramekin, partially submerge the dish in the pan, and tip the egg into water.
Cook until the whites are set and opaque, but yolks are still runny, about 2 minutes. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Trim any excess whites, if desired. (Note: Eggs can be poached ahead of time and re-warmed in hot water just before serving.)
To make the mock hollandaise, whisk the mayonnaise, Dijon and lemon juice. Melt the butter and stir in quickly. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and a generous amount of cayenne pepper.
To assemble the Eggs Benedict, top each muffin half with a handful of spinach, followed by a tomato slice, a piece of bacon split in half, and a poached egg. Drizzle with hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with additional salt, pepper and paprika. Serve immediately.