Cooking Challenge Day 2 recipes: Brunch frittata and taco salad Tuesday!

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taco salad 2I have a feeling that making this frittata is going to take me FOREVER, and it’s going to be too big for just one Megan to eat on my own for breakfast. So we’re going to make this recipe a two-fer: breakfast and lunch. Then, since it’s Tuesday — the day the lord hath made for tacos — Jessica gave us her recipe for a meatless taco salad. Of course, feel free to use real meat, it’ll taste just as delicious!

Breakfast: Spinach and goat cheese frittata


  • Iron skillet — season it by rubbing olive oil in it, pour it and rub it around with a paper towel and get it coated. NEVER WASH IT. Just wipe it down.
  • 2 bunches of spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 9 large eggs
  • 4 tbs of crème fraîche (or sour cream instead)
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan
  • 3 ounces of goat cheese (or feta or cottage cheese instead)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400
  2. Cook spinach in ¼ cup of water in a covered sauce pan, until just wilted (couple minutes)
  3. Drain the water and set aside — really press all the water out of the spinach — wring out the water with a paper towel
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, crème fraîche and parmesan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside
  5. Sauté onions in olive oil in the iron skillet, on medium heat — 4 to 5 mins, until translucent
  6. Add garlic, cook for another minute
  7. Add cooked spinach, and mix in
  8. Spread the spinach onions evenly on the bottom of the skillet
  9. Pour the egg mixture
  10. Use spatula to lift up the spinach mixture on the sides to let the egg in
  11. Sprinkle bits of goat cheese over the top (still on medium heat)
  12. When the mixture is “half set” put the whole pan in the oven
  13. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until fluffy and golden
  14. Remove and let cool
  15. Cut and serve

Lunch: Frittata with side salad

Grab a piece (or two) of your frittata from breakfast, and then serve it with this side salad…

Megan-simple goddess salad:

  1. Combine arugula with goddess dressing (tomatoes and cucumbers optional)
  2. Enjoy

Dinner: Taco salad

taco salad


  • fake or real ground meat — I’m using Trader Joe’s “beefless ground beef”meatless taco salad
  • taco seasoning
  • chopped romaine lettuce
  • cilantro (chopped)
  • cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • black beans (rinsed)
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • black olives (diced)
  • tortilla chips (crumbled)
  • sour cream
  • half avocado

Dressing ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • lemon or lime juice
  • half a clove of garlic, chopped
  • pepper
  • salt

Dressing recipe:

  1. Combine 1-1: olive oil + lemon or lime juice
  2. Chop half a clove of Garlic
  3. Add Pepper
  4. Salt
  5. Shakey shakey

Salad recipe:

  1. Sauté fake meat
  2. Add taco seasoning to taste
  3. Cut lettuce, cilantro, cherry tomatoes
  4. Rinse and wash the black beans
  5. ¼ cup of beans
  6. Heaping handful of cheese
  7. Black olives
  8. Add the meat
  9. Break up tortilla chips
  10. Add dressing
  11. Dice half an avocado, put it on top of each salad with a dollop of sour cream

Comments on Cooking Challenge Day 2 recipes: Brunch frittata and taco salad Tuesday!

  1. I don’t ever cook my spinach before I put it in a frittata and it turns out fine. So you could skip that step if you wanted to make it simpler.

  2. Megan — another tip on cleaning the cast iron pan when you’re done… sometimes the whole paper towel thing is frustrating because you get little bits of towel in your pan. If it gets really dirty, use a little oil (like 1-2 tsp) + course salt (1-2 tbs) to scrub it. Just brush the salt out of the pan once your done 🙂

    • For my “taco meat” I actually prefer using a mix of cooked lentils and sauteed mushrooms chopped up finely over any of the ground meat substitutes. Then just add taco spice mix like you normally would.

      Lentils aren’t that difficult to cook, but TJs used to have prepackaged cooked ones in the refrigerated section.

    • I used that kind of protein for years. You just can’t expect it to actually taste like meat. It tastes like what it tastes like, which is umami-ish.
      The biggest hold-up for most is the texture, so take a good look at it through the packaging to see if it is acceptable to you. Texture won’t change with cooking.

      • You can get a better meat-like texture by using a very wide and shallow pan to cook the crumbles, and cook them in 2 batches. Don’t crowd the crumbles, and don’t move them around a lot so they get nice and browned. Since there is higher water content in soy products versus meat, you need to give it space for the water to evaporate, and give it time for the crust to brown enough.

    • I’ve posted a similar recipe to Offbeat Home before – I always use beans with a little bit of oil, and I love the idea of lentils and mushrooms that JustAnotherScienceNerd suggested! I find actual food tends to satiate meat eaters better than the “fake meat”.

    • I use chopped up mushrooms as a mix in to help stretch ground beef further – once you cook it up, you cannot texturally tell the difference. I’m not sure how well it would work if you ONLY used mushrooms, though.

  3. I just made the taco salad! Had to make a few substitutions because some things aren’t as available in the UK in the small supermarkets on my way home, and because I forgot tomatoes, but it was really tasty and incredibly easy! It’s essentially an assembly job with browning some meat/fake meat. YUM!

    • Oooh! Let us other Brits know what you substituted, please! (I’m hoping you have an answer to taco seasoning and mexican blend cheese).

      • I haaaaaaaaaate packet taco seasoning, so I just use Alton Brown’s recipe (seasoning recipe at the bottom of the ingredient list–makes a little more than 1/4 cup.)
        He recommends panela cheese, but most grocery store “Mexican cheese” mixes include cheddar, colby and Monterey jack, occasionally tossed in taco seasoning.

          • Colby and Monterey Jack are basically like cheddar if you made it have barely any flavour. :p Honestly, though, you could totally get away with mild (or extra-mild) cheddar, or, y’know, extra-old if you’re like me and want to amp up the flavour a bit. 🙂

        • I can’t convince Mr. Sciencenerd to try home made taco seasoning. We already have the components for it. I use it to season whatever combo of tofu/lentils/mushrooms/beans I make, which he likes. But when he makes taco meat with actual hamburger for himself, it MUST BE THE PACKET.

          I did just get him the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, and it appeals to his scientific side. Maybe there’s a taco seasoning mix in that he would be open to trying…

  4. I love (like, seriously LOVE) my cast iron cookware. Currently we have four cast iron frypans that are actually ours (ranging from giant (maybe 12″ diameter) down to tiny (probably about 4″)), one that belongs to our housemates, a deep one on long-term loan from my parents (until they move out of my brother’s house), and a cast-iron mortar and pestle. (Oh, and our housemates also have an enamelled cast iron dutch oven, but we need to replace the handle, since it fell off — it wasn’t made of cast iron!). We cook all sorts of things in our cast iron pans, so sometimes they get pretty messy. We wash them with water (no soap!!), then dry them on a hot stove, and oil them before putting them away. We’ve had occasional trouble with pans losing their seasoning, but it’s been pretty good.

    I made two frittatas yesterday, in two of our cast iron pans. Both had asparagus and potato, and in the one I put in bacon, cheddar, and chives, and the other I added goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. Both very good. I like to put potatoes in mine, since it makes it go further, and also adds some starch to the meal (I’m way too lazy to make a side dish…). Making the two variations wasn’t too much extra work, since I cooked the potatoes all together, and the asparagus all together, and most of the different ingredients (excepting the bacon) didn’t need pre-cooking. For those who aren’t afraid to go off-roading, frittatas are great throw-in-whatever-you-have food. : )

  5. I made the taco salad with some heavy modifications : I had some chicken I needed to use up so I used that instead of “beef “. I thought I had some beans but no! Out of that! And my avocados weren’t ripe enough. So.. I can’t really say I made the same salad which is actually good news because the salad I made was lackluster. The next time I go to the store I’m going to get some “beef” and try again.

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