Southwestern Cheese and Chile Omelets

Fillings for omelets are virtually endless-from simple folded eggs with a little seasoning to hefty mounds stuffed with meats, vegetables, and cheeses. For this recipe, I went vegetarian with a little southwestern flair. Hot chiles, mild pepper, onion, garlic, and cheddar cheese combine for spicy, savory Tex-Mex flavors, and fresh avocado adds a cool, creamy finish.

Serves 2 (easily doubled)

Ingredients

1 tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 habanero or serrano chile, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 small red or orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small white or yellow onion, chopped
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground cumin
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 small avocado
toasted English muffins, for serving (optional)

Preparation

Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the jalapeno, habanero or serrano, garlic, bell pepper, onion, oregano, and cumin and season with salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5-6 minutes. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a plate and wipe out the skillet.
Whisk 2 eggs in a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the same skillet and swirl to coat. Pour the whisked eggs into the skillet and gently tilt it back and forth for even spreading. Season with salt and pepper. While the eggs begin to set, whisk the remaining 2 eggs in the same small bowl.
Continue to tilt the skillet until the bottom of the eggs begin to set, with the top still a bit runny, about 1 minute.
Spread half the vegetable mixture over one half of the eggs. Sprinkle one half of the cheese on top of the vegetables.
Carefully slide a spatula underneath the opposite side of the eggs and fold over. Press gently with the spatula to help melt the cheese and finish setting the eggs.
Slide the omelet onto a plate and keep warm. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining eggs, vegetables, and cheese.
Meanwhile, slice the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Remove the peel and chop the flesh into a small dice.

To serve, place 1 omelet on each of 2 plates. Scatter diced avocado on top and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve toasted muffins alongside, if desired.

Spice-Rubbed Steak With Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Rich, aromatic spices add depth to beef, even before it’s cooked. The smoky, savory taste of chile powder, cumin, and paprika penetrate the meat for an intensely flavored steak. Searing the beef in a hot cast-iron skillet with very little oil seals in the flavor and fragrance of the spices-and results in tender, juicy, flavor-packed meat. And, of course, less oil means less fat.

I seared a 1-1/4-inch-thick top sirloin steak that had very little noticeable fat. You can use a different cut, such as New York strip or boneless rib-eye, but make sure it’s trimmed and fairly thick.

Sweet potatoes are naturally high in nutrition and low in fat, and they need nothing more than a little oil and seasoning to bring out their creamy, caramelized goodness when roasted.

This dinner is done in less than 45 minutes. It’s steak and fries, without the guilt-and all the flavor.

Serves 2 (easily doubled)

Ingredients

For the Potatoes

1 medium, rounded sweet potato (about 3/4 lb), scrubbed and cut into 8 wedges
2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the Steaks

1/4 tsp ground chile powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1 10-oz top sirloin steak, about 1-1/4-inch thick
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, for brushing

Preparation

For the Potatoes

Preheat the oven the 400� F.
Place the potato wedges in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Season with cinnamon, salt, and pepper and toss well to coat.
Place a wire rack in a shallow baking pan (line the pan first with parchment paper or foil, if desired). Spread the potato wedges skin-side down on the rack.
Roast until tender and browned, 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with a little more salt before serving.

For the Steaks

Combine the chile powder, cumin, and paprika in a small bowl. Trim any side fat from the steaks and rub the spice mixture all over them. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes.
Heat a heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat and brush with oil.
Season the steaks with salt and pepper and sear until lightly charred, 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 3 minutes.

To serve, cut the steaks across the grain into thin strips. Divide between 2 plates and serve potato wedges alongside.

Pork and Noodles With Hot and Sour Sauce

Udon noodles are Japanese wheat noodles resembling linguine in width, but shorter, about eight inches long. Treat them like pasta-boiled in salted water, not added directly to the stir-fry.

The sauce in this recipe is boldly flavored, but not heavy or “saucy”-it simply coats the pork and noodles with spicy, gingery flavor. This means you won’t see puddles of it in the wok or in your bowl, but a small amount equals big flavor.

Note: Ground fresh chile paste is often sold as “sambal oelek” in Asian food markets. Many supermarkets also carry it in the international aisle. If you can’t find sambal oelek, substitute a chile-garlic paste or other hot sauce.

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

For the Sauce

1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 Thai or habanero chile, stemmed and finely chopped

1/4 cup vegetable broth

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp ground fresh chile paste (sambal oelek)

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp white sugar

For the Pork and Noodles

6 oz soba noodles

2 tbsp peanut oil, divided

1 lb ground pork

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

3 oz snow peas, sliced in half lengthwise

3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and dark green parts separated

chopped cilantro leaves (with small stems), for garnish

Preparation

For the Sauce

Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Set aside. Re-whisk again just before using.

For the Pork and Noodles

Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water 10 minutes. Drain.

Heat a wok (or large, deep skillet) over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the pork and garlic and stir-fry until just cooked through, 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon and wipe out any remaining liquid.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok. Add the mushrooms, snow peas, and white parts of the scallions and stir-fry until crisp-tender, 2 minutes.

Return the pork mixture to the wok and add the sauce. Cook, stirring to incorporate, until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes.

Add the drained noodles to the wok and toss well to combine. Cook until hot throughout, 1-2 minutes.

To serve, divide the pork and noodles among 5-6 shallow bowls and scatter the green parts of the scallions and the cilantro on top.