[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

As a newly minted vegan, I've rapidly discovered two things that offer a particular challenge to someone who is used to eating milk, eggs, and cheese: breakfast, and high quality protein. The temptation to replace meat with more carbs is difficult to resist, especially when pasta is so easy to cook, but as I've found, it's a losing strategy.

You get hungry faster, and at least my stomach doesn't completely appreciate the change.

That said, there's no reason to resort to mock meats or egg and cheese substitutes (to each their own, but I find them all pretty universally revolting) when there are beans and nuts to be had aplenty.

Chilaquiles are a classic Mexican breakfast dish that can be pretty aptly described as a fried tortilla casserole. Crisp chips are soaked in salsa (in this case a bright and tangy salsa verde made from tomatillos—charred to add some bitter, smoky depth) until just barely softened but still mildly crunchy.

If you're only vegetarian, scrambled or fried eggs along with some crumbled cotija cheese are a great way to add good protein to the mix, but I think even meat eaters will agree that black beans are delicious. This recipe combines black beans with charred corn, along with a few slices of avocado and a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds for a meal that's not only balanced in carbs, protein, and high in good green vegetables, but is crazy delicious to boot.

Get the Recipe

Chiliaquiles with Pepitas, Charred Corn, and Black Beans »

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.


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