One recent weekend morning, my friend Andrew and I sauntered down Mission Street in San Francisco in search of a new and interesting place to eat brunch. We ended up at La Sanateca de Mission (2815 Mission St.) It was charming and cute, in a 1980s diner sort of way. We ordered coffee and water and decided on our breakfasts. I got plantains, eggs with vegetables and beans. Andrew went for a Salvadoran-style omelet with green onions.
When our beautifully presented and very tasty meal arrived, along with warm corn tortillas, it occurred to me that this was exactly the kind of simple, affordable meal that would be perfect to serve the next time I had people over for brunch. Of course, I couldn’t resist tinkering around in my kitchen the next day, devising my own take on the Salvadoran breakfast.
This brunch menu will serve two to three people generously. Make the frittata first, as it will take the longest. While the frittata is cooking, wrap a stack of 6 to 8 small corn tortillas in aluminum foil and put them in the oven along with the frittata. The technique of closely packing them in a sealed package will steam them and make them soft and pliable. Serve wrapped in a warm kitchen towel with fresh butter on the side. Encourage your guests to butter tortillas and wrap bites of frittata and black beans with a little Mexican crema and hot sauce (I like Tapatío).
Salvadoran Vegetable Frittata
1⁄2 cup half-and-half
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1⁄2 small white onion, chopped
1⁄2 cup jack cheese or queso quesadilla (Mexican melting cheese), shredded
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 11-by-7 rectangular pan or an 8-inch pie pan. In a medium-size bowl, beat eggs and half-and-half together. Stir in cilantro, both peppers, both onions, cheese, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into your pan and place in oven on the center rack for 25 to 35 minutes, until eggs have set and top is very lightly brown.
To serve, allow to cool for a few minutes. Cut into squares or wedges and serve with a small dollop of crema or regular sour cream.
6 large, very ripe plantains, peeled and sliced on the bias into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbs. vegetable oil or light olive oil
a couple pinches of kosher or sea salt
Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a frying pan (ideally cast iron) over high heat. Using tongs, gently place half of the plantain slices into the pan. Allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. The flesh of the plantain should develop a dark caramel color with charred bits. The inside of the plantain should be soft but not mushy. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with the salt.
Repeat with the remaining oil and plantain slices. Serve hot.
2 14-oz. cans whole black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs. cilantro, chopped
Heat black beans in a small pot over medium heat with 2 Tbs. of water to prevent sticking. Top with cilantro.
Gabi Moskowitz is the clergy assistant at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, a caterer and cooking teacher. Follow her adventures in and out of the kitchen in her blog, www.outofthepantry.blogspot.com. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer.