A classic American breakfast sandwich includes bread, eggs, cheese, and meat. If you want a vegetarian version, you just skip the meat, right? This is great, too—but there’s something unsatisfying about having to miss out on a component just to get what you want. This recipe—inspired by one I had at Gertie in Brooklyn—takes another approach. Instead of bacon or ham or sausage (all of which, for the record, I love), this recipe turns to roasted broccoli. A quick trip to a very hot oven turns this otherwise humble vegetable into something as confident as bacon, with crispy, frizzy florets and chewy, tender stalks. And the sheet pan where this happens also becomes the landing zone for English muffins and cheddar cheese, to respectively toast and melt. Of course, you can futz with the bread and cheese picks. Go for toast or a bagel or a roll if that’s your thing. Swap in American or Gruyere or whatever you want. Now, about those eggs: As noted below, you can go for sunny side-up, over-medium, or over-hard. For me, this all depends on whether I’m eating this sandwich at home, or making it in a rush and running out the door. Sunny side-up is a whole lot messier, but very good if you’re not wearing a white shirt and have a couple napkins nearby. If you want some kick, add a few dashes of hot sauce, a smear of chile paste or chile oil, or some pickled jalapeños or cherry peppers. —Emma Laperruque
small head broccoli (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 tablespoons
extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
freshly ground black pepper
English muffins, white or whole-wheat, halved with a fork
Heat the oven to 475°F. Break the broccoli down into florets. Peel the broccoli stalks, then chop them into big chunks. Add all of this to a parchment-lined, rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle the broccoli with the 1 ½ tablespoons oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss. Roast for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the broccoli is fork tender and its floret fuzzies are starting to crisp.
Scooch the roasted broccoli to one half of the sheet pan. Lay out the English muffins in a single layer, cut side facing up, on the other half. Top each English muffin with a slice of cheddar. Get the sheet pan back in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese has completely melted.
Meanwhile, cook the eggs. Heat a large nonstick skillet on the stove over medium heat, then add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. When the oil is hot, crack in the 4 eggs. Cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Stop here if you want sunny side-up for an extra-saucy situation. Or flip the eggs, then continue to cook for about 10 seconds for over-easy or a little longer for over-medium.
To assemble the sandwiches: Evenly divide the broccoli florets and stalks on top of the cheesy English muffin bottoms, then top each broccoli pile with an egg. Close the sandwiches, then eat right away.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.