Growing up, weekend breakfast was an elaborate family affair—at least according to my nine-year-old self’s definition of the term: chocolate chip pancakes; bacon waffles; cinnamon French toast. As a rare treat, we would go out for brunch. Though my sisters and I typically stuck to sweet, bready items we could drench in syrup, my parents always opted for what I now recognize as the ultimate brunch food: eggs Benedict.
Eggs Benedict is the total brunch package. It combines all of the main breakfast food groups—toasty carbs, runny eggs, and savory meat—then smothers them in decadently rich hollandaise. Now that I’m older and cooking weekend breakfasts for myself, I understand why my parents eagerly ordered eggs Benedict out, yet never made it themselves. For one, classic eggs Benedict begs to be enjoyed in moderation. Hollandaise is an emulsion of butter and egg yolks, the meat used is not lean, and the English muffin rarely incorporates whole grains. For another, it’s a pain! Who wants to stress about emulsifying eggs on a Saturday morning? Not this girl.
Arugula Eggs Benedict with Crispy Farina Cakes is my healthier twist on eggs Benedict that is attainable for a home cook. Not only is this version much better for you, I found the robust flavors of nutty farina, sweet sundried tomatoes, garlicky arugula, and creamy goat cheese far more satisfying that the original.
In place of the English muffin, we are starting with a crispy farina cake. Farina is more commonly known as “cream of wheat,” and if you have bad childhood memories of icky, soggy mush (as I did), this is the time to put them behind you. Bob’s Red Mill’s Whole Wheat Farina boasts a satisfying, nutty flavor and hearty texture. While farina is typically prepared as a creamy porridge, it can also be cooled, sliced, and pan seared into tasty little cakes. Not only are these farina cakes much healthier and more filling than a classic English muffin, but also, they are better equipped to transport the slew of eggs Benedict toppings we are about to pile on thick.
In place of the standard bacon or ham, I swapped fresh arugula sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Not only is arugula great for you, but its vibrant, peppery flavor stands up to the hearty farina. Next comes the classic poached egg with its deliciously soft, runny yolk. If you are intimidated by poaching eggs, fear not—I’ve included an easy step-by-step below. Should you choose to substitute a fried egg for ease, I won’t judge.
The crowing glory of our Arugula Eggs Benedict is a goat cheese sundried tomato sauce. Hollandaise, you better watch out: this creamy, dreamy and flavor-packed sauce is healthier, easier to prepare, and its dynamic flavor outshines hollandaise any day of the week. We loved it so much, I’ve started making extra batches to spread onto sandwiches and top pastas. Try it once and you will be equally addicted!
Arugula Eggs Benedict with Crispy Farina Cakes combines simplicity of farina with the indulgence of eggs Benedict, all with less guilt. While still worthy of a special occasion, this lighter twist on eggs Benedict may just become your new Saturday tradition.
Arugula Eggs Benedict with Crispy Farina Cakes
For the farina cakes
- 3 cups Water
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Farina*
- 1 tablespoon Butter, for frying, plus additional as needed
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for frying, plus additional as needed
*Make this gluten free by using Brown Rice Farina
For the goat cheese sundried tomato sauce:
- 1/4 cup Milk
- 2 tablespoons Sundried Tomatoes (dry, not oil-packed)
- 4 ounces Goat Cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
For the garlic arugula:
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 teaspoons minced Garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 7 ounces Arugula Leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
For the poached eggs
- 4 Eggs
- 1 tablespoon Vinegar
- Prepare the farina cakes: Lightly oil a 9×9-inch baking dish and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt. Whisk in farina, reduce heat to low, and stir briskly to prevent lumps from forming. Cover and cook on low for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking and stirring until the farina is the consistency of a very thick porridge. Pour into the prepared dish, smooth the top, and let stand until no longer steaming, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold and set, about 1-1/2 hours. If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 2 days).
- When ready to serve: Place a rack in the center of oven and preheat to 200°F. Invert the set farina onto a large cutting board. Cut into squares with a knife or into 3-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter (cutting into squares will yield more cakes—biscuit cutters will leave some scraps.) Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the farina cakes for 3 to 5 minutes, turning once, until browned on the outside and heated inside. Repeat until all of the cakes are seared, adding more butter and oil as needed. Remove to a baking sheet and keep warm in preheated oven until ready to serve.
- Prepare the sundried tomato goat cheese sauce: Place sundried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling water to rehydrate. Let sit 5 minutes, then drain. Warm the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds. In a blender or a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the milk, drained sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, mustard, lemon juice, and cayenne. Blend until mostly smooth (the sundried tomatoes will still be a little chunky.)
- Prepare the garlic arugula: In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Do not allow the garlic to brown. Add the arugula, salt, and pepper, tossing to coat with garlic and oil. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover, turn the heat to high, and cook for additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring until the arugula is wilted. Turn off heat, cover to keep warm, and set aside.
- Poach the eggs: Fill a deep saucepot with 1 inch of water and add vinegar. Heat water until just below the simmering point (small bubbles will appear all over the bottom of the pan but will not break the water’s surface.) Reduce heat slightly to keep the water from simmering. Break the first egg into a small dish. Using a rubber spatula, move in a vigorous circular motion around the sides of the pot to create a “whirlpool.” Gently slide the egg from the dish into the whirlpool’s center. Do not worry if the egg appears to be coming apart—the motion of the water will draw the sides in and around. If your egg sticks to the bottom of the pot, wait 30 seconds then gently slide the spatula underneath to loosen it. Cook egg for 3-4 minutes, until it only jiggles a little when nudged with the spatula. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining eggs. Just before serving, you can slip the eggs back into the warm (not simmering) water briefly to rewarm them if desired.
- Serve: Top each farina cake with a spoonful of sauce, the sautéed arugula, a poached egg, and then another spoonful of sauce. Serve immediately.
Erin Clarke is dedicated to wholesome food that tastes incredible. On her blog, Well Plated by Erin (www.wellplated.com), she shares approachable recipes for lightened-up comfort foods, healthier baked treats, and seasonal eating. She passionately believes that family dinner can be special without being complicated and that one need not sacrifice taste to enjoy a balanced diet. The Huffington Post named her as a “Best Food Blog for Eating on a Budget,” and her recipes have been featured on TODAY, Oprah, Parade, The Kitchn, and Cosmopolitan. She conducts televised cooking demonstrations and resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
When Erin’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her out running, working on long overdue photo projects, and exploring Milwaukee’s local food scene. She owns far too many plaid shirts and is convinced that bourbon should be classified as a condiment.