What Jewish Farmers Eat for Breakfast
Summer might be beginning to wind down, but peak harvest season — which, where I live in the Northeast of the United States runs roughly from July through mid-October — is going strong. The farmers market is entering that magical sweet spot where late summer’s sweet corn and glistening eggplants meet early fall’s new crop of apples and squash.
For a home cook, there is no better (or simpler) time to make breakfast. A handful of fresh blackberries adds sweetness and dashing purple swirls to creamy yogurt. Crisp cucumbers and fresh mint combine to make a bright salad for topping bagels and lox, while pancakes can be dressed up with hunks of fresh peach or plum. And with homemade pesto just an overactive basil plant and a whirl of a food processor away, a fried egg on top of toast never had it so good.
More Breakfast Ideas From Leah
Looking for more ideas, I went straight to the source: I reached out to some of my favorite Jewish farmers to find out what the people who grow our food eat for breakfast during the bountiful summer months. Some of their responses were short and sweet; others read like love poetry to their fields and tables. Not surprisingly, tomatoes, particularly heirloom varieties, and basil, two staple summer crops, featured prominently. Their suggestions are bound to inspire — no watering can required.
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Jewish Farm School, Philadelphia
“I love toast with olive oil, a sliced heirloom tomato, basil and a little coarse salt. Sometimes I will add a little brie, mozzarella or nutritional yeast. Another favorite is toast with butter, salt and sliced French breakfast radishes. We have a great, Kabbalah-inspired bakery in West Philly called Four Worlds. Their French bread is perfect for this.”
Co-Founder of Pushing the Envelope Farm, Geneva, Illinois
“We prepare frittatas with eggs from our adorable chickens. I try and save our blue eggs until last because they are so beautiful. I cut up vegetables like zucchini and eggplant and pre-roast them with a bit of oil and salt until crispy before adding them to the eggs. We have a bed of herbs, so I pick a mixture of basil, thyme and parsley to add to the eggs. And since our chives seem to increase their bulk each year, I often end up using them instead of onions.”
Associate Director of Adamah, Falls Village, Connecticut
“I’ve been obsessed with caprese salads lately, so I’ve been doing two things for breakfast. One is a basic caprese with thick slices of heirloom tomatoes — my favorite is Cherokee Purple, which is beautiful paired with the white mozzarella and bright green basil. The other is a bit of a riff. I caramelize our onions and Sungold tomatoes in a pan, beat in an egg or two, and add a few chunks of fresh mozzarella and ribbons of basil.”
Farm Director at Eden Village, Putnam Valley, New York
“I like to eat yogurt with dill and cucumbers. And at Eden Village Camp we also have fresh fruit salad every morning!”
Owner, Farmer Freed Culinary Salt Blends, Santa Cruz, California
“Realistically, I usually eat homemade granola during the week in the truck while driving from farm to farm. But my favorite summer breakfast is Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, goat cheese (made by a farmer friend) and a healthy sprinkling of Farmer Freed’s Everyday Herb Salt on sourdough.”
Yard-to-Table Broccoli-Leek Frittata
Makes 4 servings
This homemade frittata is one of our favorite go-to meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is made with free-range organic eggs from Coastal Roots Farms hens or from our backyard hens.
3/4 cup finely grated mild cheddar cheese (we prefer raw goat cheddar)
Handful of fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh marjoram, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 medium leeks, white and light green part only, trimmed of roots and thinly sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small tomato, sliced
8-10 whole basil leaves
1) Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
2) Whisk eggs and then add ½ cup cheese, basil, marjoram, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Heat oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until they are tender and soft but not too brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add broccoli and sauté for a few more minutes until broccoli is bright green and slightly tender.
3) Transfer the broccoli and leek mixture into a medium roughly 9” cast iron sauté pan (if you want to use the same pan, let it cool before adding eggs). Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Thinly slice tomato and evenly spread them with fresh basil leaves on top of the frittata. Finally sprinkle the remaining finely grated cheese on top and place in preheated oven.
4) Cook for 30 minutes or until puffy and lightly golden on top. Let rest for about 35 minutes before serving.
And More Breakfast Ideas From Leah
Leah Koenig is a contributing editor at the Forward and author of “Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen,” Chronicle Books (2015).