You’ve heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again: breakfast is my favorite meal. I don’t think there was any other hope for me to not love it though. I grew up in a spoiled house where we ate well for breakfast. Cereal was so rare a treat, that I grew up not really having a taste for it. Sundays especially, my family would work magic on the week’s left overs. From refried black beans, to egg scrambles, to salsas made from the vegetables in our garden: Sunday mornings were made for feasting.
So it isn’t any surprise that having breakfast is one of my favorite things to do while I’m traveling. At the top of my list of favorite breakfast cuisines is Turkish breakfast. It’s no secret that I am a savory food lover more than a sweets lover, so any place with savory breakfasts is already a favorite in my book. What I love about Turkish breakfast spreads is that they are not even a little influenced by western breakfast constructs. A beautiful array of different colors and textures are welcome at the table: simit (a sesame seed crusted Turkish bread), olives, cheeses and spreads, honey, tomatoes and cucumbers, socuk (Turkish sausage), and today’s star—Menemen.
Menemen is a Turkish breakfast dish that is forgiving and flexible, but the basic ingredients are always the same: a mixture of eggs, tomatoes, onion, and peppers. In today’s variation, Menemen is very similar to a shakshuka in the sense that it is in a dense tomato sauce. This recipe though could easily be changed up and be made with the eggs scrambled into the tomato mixture, or soft-boiled and added at the end. Like I said, it’s forgiving.
Because of the absence of simit or other breads to sop up the delicious tomato salsa, I made skillet potatoes. Paired with some sautéed all-beef sausage, tomatoes, cucumber, blood oranges, and apricots it made for a spectacular brunch this past weekend!
Whole 30 Week 1 Thoughts
One of the reasons I’m doing Whole 30 this round is that I recognize in my taste palette an aversion to vegetable-heavy foods. My value for food is usually affected by whether I can cover it in cheese, or put it on a piece of toast. And while neither of those are bad things every once in a while, I recognize that my body just responds better when I eat a balanced diet. Just in these first five days, I’ve noticed better sleep, focus, and energy.
And I’ll be honest, there are still moments throughout the day where I just want the ease and comfort of making a quick pasta, but I’m finding more and more that victory lies in not lingering in my cravings. If I find myself craving something I can’t have, I just get up and get a compliant snack and go back to what I was doing.
This is my biggest tip from this first week of Whole 30: Stay Busy. Start projects. Clean out your garage and your closets. We’ve been completely consumed by redecorating our living room this past weekend, and you know what? While I did have cravings because we decided to be superhuman and go to an event with a food cart pod, I found that I was able to redirect my cravings by acknowledging them, choosing a healthy alternative, and moving on.
It’s easy to go down a spiral of all the foods you can’t have, but dwelling on this doesn’t do any good and there isn’t a lot I can do about it in the moment.
We Need To Talk About Sofritos Again
It is SO SO SO important during Whole 30 or any other kind of dietary change to put a little extra effort into making your food taste good. Creating good memories of healthy foods is one of the ways we can change our attitudes towards plant-based foods.
Making this menemen, I spent a lot of time working on my sofrito, knowing that how I crafted it was going to heavily influence how the rest of the dish tasted. Think of sofritos as a way of infusing flavor into your food. I knew I needed a little extra balance for this sofrito, because you can’t use sugar in Whole 30 and I wanted to make sure my tomato sauce wasn’t too acidic.
Because of this I made sure I used sweet onion, and some really sweet peppers. I let them saute together in the pan for a good 5-6 minutes before adding any tomatoes because I wanted to loosen up that sweetness so that it would spread evenly through my sauce.
Right before adding the tomatoes, I added some of the spices I was cooking with to coat the onion and peppers with some of those flavors. Once I added the tomatoes and paste, I mixed thoroughly and allowed them to simmer together for about 5 minutes.
After letting them simmer together for five minutes, I taste the menemen to get a feel of how much seasoning it needs and to make sure it isn’t too acidic. Once the sauce is to the point where I could eat bowls of it whole, I make little burrows in the sauce and crack the eggs directly in the pan, and sprinkle them with a few spices.
I’m a big fan of runny yolks, so I cooked my eggs covered for about 3-4 minutes and then served with the rest of our spread. The runny yolk mixed into the sauce was D E L I C I O U S.
ALSO this sauce makes for amazing leftovers! I used some in my lunch the next day, with some leftover salmon mixed into it. I could eat this sauce over veggie noodles, with meatballs, you name it! I guess that’s another tip for Whole 30 : Recycle and upscale your leftovers! Sometimes it’s nice to have a super fancy feast, but usually, it’s nicer to just be able to throw something in a bowl and be eating 3 minutes later. Keeping this sauce on hand wouldn’t be a bad idea.
I hope you enjoy this one, mi gente! This is a recipe that we make on and off Whole 30, and it’s one that doesn’t even feel restrictive or like it’s missing anything.
Love & Sofrito Magic,