It all started with two inches of frost on the inside of our chest freezer.
Two months ago, I opened up the freezer to toss something in there, and I saw that we had a legit defrosting situation on our hands. But, the freezer was full to the brim of bags and bags of frozen veggies, of individually wrapped chicken breasts, of loaves of bread – all bought in bulk and when on sale because I am physically incapable of passing up a good deal – especially when I know I can stock up, squirrel-style, and keep it in the freezer.
And so I determined that in March, I would make as many meals as possible from what we already had in our freezer and pantry, only getting a few fresh dairy and produce items from the grocery store each week. I had a lot of fun coming up with meals out of our ordinary routine…and for the most part, it worked. I came up with some winners (baked apple butter pork chops over wild rice) and some definite losers (rice bowl with avocado, salsa, cheese…aaaand cut up bits from a leftover grilled hamburger). Seriously, don’t ever eat that.
But after a month of purging our pantry and freezers, I still had the quinoa. The quinoa I bought on impulse at Costco two years ago. The quinoa that had moved into progressively smaller containers every few months. Yeah, that quinoa.
I made us a few quinoa-based salads and curries….but was eager to come up with a new way to get through our seemingly bottomless jar. I remember having heard of breakfast quinoa dishes a couple of years ago and quickly dismissing the idea as hipster nonsense (much like kale). Plus…me and porridge? We’re not on the best of terms. I have a hard time getting down a bowl of oatmeal unless it is absolutely saturated with nuts or granola – it’s totally a texture thing, and I totally can’t get over it.
But a quinoa porridge? I thought it had a chance…slightly less slimy than oatmeal, and with a nutty flavor I love. So I turned to The Google (please click that link and make your day) and came across this recipe from A Beautiful Mess.
In addition to being totally into the flavors of the recipe – coconut milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, toasted coconut and walnuts, plus berries – I had all of these ingredients in my pantry and freezer, and I could even envision myself getting behind the texture. And I was right – the toasted nuts and coconut turn down the porridge texture tremendously, and overall you get this fabulous nutty flavor throughout from the quinoa being cooked in the coconut milk.
The best part about this breakfast is that it’s totally filling. I had this for breakfast and was totally not hungry until lunch, which is saying a lot for this nursing mama who regularly has second breakfast and second lunch these days.
So whether you’re on a pantry purge (like me) or you’re trying to get out of a breakfast toast rut (like me) or you’re looking for a quick and filling breakfast (like me), I ask you to consider quinoa. For breakfast. It’s not as weird as you think.
(recipe just barely adapted from A Beautiful Mess )
(yields 2 servings)
This fast and easy quinoa breakfast dish is super filling and full of nutty goodness. I like to make a larger batch in the beginning of the week and store it in the fridge, adding in the berries and toasted nuts daily. I barely adapted this recipe - just adding the vanilla extract to give it a slightly more complex flavor.
1 cup coconut milk* (about half of a 14-oz can)
1/2 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or maple syrup)
a small pinch of cinnamon
a small pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts**, toasted
(optional) a splash of extra coconut milk, based on texture preference
a small handful of berries***, frozen and thawed, or fresh
*1 cup is about half of a 14-oz. can of coconut milk. You could use the rest of it in this fabulous Indian lentil recipe.
**Pecans and sliced almonds also work well.
***Frozen and thawed berries work great in this dish. I used blueberries, but raspberries or blackberries would also be great.
Cook The Quinoa:
In a small pot, bring the coconut milk almost to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa under cold water - this can help to remove its sometimes bitter flavor. When the coconut milk is nearly boiling, stir in the quinoa and reduce the heat to low. Then cover the pot and let simmer for 15 minutes, removing the lid for the last 3 minutes. Be sure that the mixture is not boiling - you're looking for a gentle simmer.
Toast the Coconut and Nuts:
As the quinoa cooks, heat a small, ungreased pan over medium heat for just a minute or so. Once hot, toss in the shredded coconut and chopped nuts. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes until coconut begins to turn to a golden brown and the coconut/nuts become fragrant. Immediately remove to a plate to cool.
Assemble the dish:
Remove pot from heat. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla extract. Place servings in bowls, then toss in the berries and the toasted coconut and nuts. Serve immediately.