Ahh, classic Eggs Benedict. A perfect poached egg perched atop a crisp, buttery English muffin. Lemony, creamy Hollandaise sauce smothering the top; a slice of ham or bacon sandwiched somewhere there in the middle.
Wait, what? Cue screeching brake noise. This is a vegetarian blog! Well, good thing! Because today, we've got a meatless version of Eggs Benedict that will have you singing the praises of Sunday brunch right along with the meat-eating chorus.
You can even gloat a little, if you want--because I uphold that this vegetarian Eggs Benedict, with luscious avocado and smoky roasted red peppers in lieu of meat, beats the pants off of the carnivorous version any day of the week.
First, we've got the standard English muffin. Toasted, then buttered. I just buy 'em at the store, but if you're really feeling ambitious, I'm pretty sure this homemade version would be incredible. Next, we layer on a couple of slices of perfectly ripe, buttery avocado. And then, a nice hunk of roasted red pepper. I make them at home (and here's how I do it), but a store-bought jar will do you just fine. Hollandaise sauce made with a blender--so much easier!
And, of course, a perfectly poached egg.
In our kitchen, I cook 95% of the time, because I love it. But poached eggs are my guy's domain; he's got 'em mastered. People have all kinds of tips and tricks to achieving the perfect poached egg. Here are his.
How we poach our eggs
Fill a shallow (about 3-inch) saucepan about ¾ of the way with water. Add a generous pinch of salt and a splash (about a tablespoon) of white vinegar. Bring to a boil.
Crack up to four eggs into individual bowls or teacups. Note: Sometimes he doubles up and adds two eggs per teacup. Other times, when, say, he's under pressure to create two perfect-looking poached eggs for an Eggs Benedict blog story, he'll go ahead and use one cup or bowl per egg.
When the water has come to a boil, gently lower the teacups into the water, allowing the water to first creep a bit into the cup before gently but quickly pouring the egg completely into the water. Repeat as quickly as possible with remaining eggs.
Set the timer for exactly three minutes; wait and watch. At first, the whites and the yolks may seem like they're all over the place, but hold tight. Soon enough, the whites will begin to wrap back around their yolks. If the water threatens to boil over, reduce the heat a bit. And if some white, foamy stuff appears on the top of the water, gently skim it off with a spoon.
As soon as the timer goes off, gently scoop the eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon and serve. That's it!
Okay! Now that you've poached your eggs, it's time to get crackin' (ahem) on this here meatless Eggs Benedict.
For the Hollandaise Sauce:
- ½ cup 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper optional
For the Eggs Benedict:
- 4 English muffins sliced in half
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small avocado sliced
- 1 small jar roasted red peppers drained
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar divided
- 8 eggs
To Make the Hollandaise Sauce:
- Place the butter in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Warm just until sizzling. Add the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne (if using) to a blender. Blend at medium speed for about 1 minute, until well-blended and yolks are pale. With the blender running on medium, very slowly and carefully stream the butter into the egg yolk mixture. The yolks will cook thanks to the heat of the butter, and the sauce will form. It will be pale yellow and fairly runny. Pour into a bowl and keep in a warm place until ready to serve. I usually set mine over a bowl of warm water.
To Make the Eggs Benedict:
- Toast the English muffins and butter them. Lay two toasted English muffins each, buttered side up, onto four serving plates. Layer avocado, then roasted red peppers, over the top.
- Now, poach the eggs. Fill a shallow (about 3-inch) saucepan about ¾ of the way full with water and set it over high heat. Stir in a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of vinegar and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, crack four of the eggs into individual bowls or teacups. Gently lower the teacups into the water, allowing the water to creep a bit into the cup before pouring the egg completely into the water. Repeat as quickly as possible with remaining three eggs. Cook for 3 minutes exactly. (Set a timer!) Be sure not to let the water boil over and if any white foam appears, gently skim it off with a spoon. Once the 3 minutes is up, scoop the poached eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon and set one egg on top of each muffin. To poach the remaining four eggs, discard water and start with fresh water, salt, and the remaining tablespoon of vinegar.
- Once the Eggs Benedict are assembled, drizzle Hollandaise sauce over each and, if desired, sprinkle with additional cayenne or garnish with a basil leaf or chopped chives. Serve immediately.