Many morning meals and recipes can be divisive in the same way that brownies (fudgy or cakey?) or chocolate chip cookies (soft, chewy, or crisp?) often are. There are people who tend towards the savory side of things and others who would choose a fruit scone, muffin, or stack of pancakes before they'd ever order eggs at brunch. That's not to say you can't dabble in both (I certainly do!), and it's not to say your preferences don't come in waves or vary by the season, but I think many of us have a definite proclivity.
So today is for all the fans of savory breakfasts. Meet my new favorite super-simple, high-protein, naturally gluten-free muffin.
My recipe today is a riff on The Kitchn's recipe for savory cottage cheese muffins with prosciutto and chives that we shared last year, which in turn is a riff on a recipe by Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks. These muffins come together quickly and are a great high-protein option for those of us who are looking for a bigger hit of protein in the morning or might be trying to avoid carbs. Plus, they're gluten-free!
But before we get too deep into the recipe here, I think it's important to have an honest moment about how we're defining muffins. In many ways, these are really more like deluxe baked eggs that happen to be made in a muffin tin than those more traditional fluffy, flour-based muffins. Instead, these veer more towards an easy soufflé.
I choose to call them muffins instead of baked eggs because they still contain many of the elements and ingredients of a good muffin: a combination of flours or meals, baking powder, eggs, a bit of liquid. You can also still eat them out of your hand, just like regular muffins. This is all to say that regardless of what you call them, they may just become a new weekday favorite in your house like they've become in ours. I certainly hope that's the case.
Now, in truth I'd never made a cottage cheese muffin before and had my doubts. But I set out to create one that would be super savory, with a mixture of cornmeal and almond meal — and that would highlight vegetarian ingredients like sweet roasted red peppers, salty feta, and snappy fresh chives. It was inspired by the 101 Cookbooks post as well as our riff on it last year, but I also made quite a few further tweaks and changes.
When I pulled them out of the oven, I was more than pleasantly surprised. The tops had puffed up and domed ever-so-slightly, and they'd turned a pretty shade of golden-brown. When I sliced one of the muffins in half, it had the texture of a very airy, eggy muffin. They are delicious warm (although they're equally nice at room temperature), energizing without feeling overly heavy or decadent, and travel well, too. And perhaps even better: they're great for up to five days if kept covered in the refrigerator. I simply pull one out and microwave it first thing in the morning or bag it up on busier days when I know I'm bound to have breakfast out of the house.
Cornmeal Muffins with Roasted Red Peppers and Feta
3/4 cup (175ml) cottage cheese
5 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup (60ml) almond milk (or water)
1 cup (120g) almond meal (see Recipe Notes)
1/4 cup (38g) cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (105g) roasted red peppers (in oil), diced
1/2 cup (65g) crumbled feta cheese
3 heaping tablespoons finely chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a muffin pan with 9 paper baking cups.
Whisk the cottage cheese, eggs, and almond milk together in a large bowl. Add the almond meal, cornmeal, baking powder, garlic powder, and salt, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the roasted red peppers, feta, and chives.
Divide the batter between the 9 muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes, or until tops are golden-brown and lightly domed. Enjoy warm or room temperature. Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Baking gluten-free: As always, when it's important that your baked goods are gluten-free, double-check all ingredients to make sure they are gluten-free — not just the grains.
- How to make almond meal at home: If you'd rather not buy almond meal, it's easy to make it at home: simply take 1 cup of almonds and process in your food processor until they become a coarse meal. Be careful not to over-process (or you'll have almond butter on your hands).
- Add millet for crunch: For a little added crunch, I love tossing in a handful of raw millet here. It compliments the subtle corn flavor perfectly, is naturally gluten-free, and gives these otherwise rather delicate muffins an additional layer of texture.
- Adaptation Ideas: If you prefer a different cheese or don't care for roasted red peppers, these are easy to adapt. Feel free to use goat cheese or even grated cheddar if you prefer. And I've tried these with sun-dried tomato and they're wonderful.