Veggie Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

There are times when magical things are created out of desperation. When a lack of the usual ingredients leads to the unearthing of dusty jars and bottles buried in the depths of cupboards or stored on the highest shelves. Sniffing and tasting lead to modest, then less modest additions, followed by a dash of this and that, until a perfect balance is achieved. The end result is a new, inspiring dish. A reminder that creating food for yourself and others is an amazing, empowering experience.

And then there are the days when I eat oatmeal.

This happens to me at least several times a year. I make some coffee, I catch up on blog posts, I start my job work, I get more coffee. I finish off my second cup, and that’s when it hits me: I’m HUNGRY. Most days, I eat some variation of this. Or perhaps an omelette. Or a bowl of cereal if I’m desperate. But then there are the days when there is, literally, nothing to eat. No milk. No eggs. Just a couple of sad veggies hanging around in the crisper. And I freak out.

See, first-meal-of-the-day hunger is different from other times of the day. Evening hunger is a whiny hunger. Like when an hour and a half goes by and the pizza I ordered from the place three blocks down the road has not shown up yet, and I’m unsuccessfully trying to balance my growing hunger, the frustration of having no idea when the pizza will actually arrive since the guy I spoke to on the phone again told me it would be there any minute, but it has been many minutes, and the guilt of not wanting to leave the comfort of my apartment to go pick up my own pizza from a place that is literally less than a two-minute drive away, coupled with the fact that my own laziness is the reason I am not eating pizza at that very moment. But first-meal hunger is an intense, angry hunger. Fueled by coffee and an inability to focus on anything but FOOD. NOW. It’s in these moments of tweaking desperation that my gaze turns to the jar of oats.

Maybe enough time passes between each incident that I forget how much I actually hate oatmeal. Or maybe I’m so blinded by rage hunger that I convince myself this time will be different. Whatever the reason, the outcome is always the same. I start devouring it, and halfway through I’m hit with the realization: “This is gross, and now my morning is ruined!” A terrible breakfast is not the way to start a day.

I don’t know what exactly it is about oatmeal that I dislike so much*. It’s not the whole porridge thing, because I love Wheatena (and have ever since I was little). I think it’s the texture. It’s OK when it’s hot, but it seems to get cooler and mushier by the second. Alas, I seemed doomed to repeat this mistake over and over. But then, Kristin of Pastry Affair posted a recipe for breakfast quinoa last year, and my mind was blown. How had I never considered quinoa for breakfast before?

*After this post went live yesterday, I remembered later in the evening that there was a time, not all that long ago, when I would order a bowl of oatmeal and an English muffin at a local diner fairly often. And I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it. So perhaps there’s hope for me and oatmeal yet. Or maybe I just need to chase it with an English muffin.

Now, this is a far cry from a porridge. Also, it’s savory, since I’m not really a sweet breakfast kind of girl. But there’s milk, and veggies, and big ol’ fried eggs with delicious runny yolks just waiting to turn into awesome breakfast sauce. It’s healthy and scrumptious. If my rage hunger afforded me the patience to cook quinoa, I would make this a lot more often.

Also, just a reminder, the Craft Cocktails at Home giveaway ends tonight at midnight! Head on over to the post and enter if you haven’t already!

Veggie Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
(inspired by Pastry Affair)

yield: 1 serving

  • 1/2 cup of quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • broccoli, cut into florets
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan over medium high. Add broccoli and mushrooms, and stir-fry until cooked (around 5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine milk, water, and quinoa in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring regularly*, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add vegetables, cheese, and salt & pepper to the pot of quinoa and stir to combine. Cover and set aside.

Fry a sunny side–up egg. (I was going to tell you about my experiments with the frying technique, but you should really just read Izy’s post instead, because it’s way better!)

Transfer the quinoa to a bowl, then top with the egg.

*If you don’t stir the quinoa fairly often as it cooks, it can develop a bit of an icky film. Not the biggest deal, but I’m neurotic, so I like to do the extra stirring.

I haven’t noted specific vegetable amounts above because it’s totally up to you what and how much you want to use. This dish welcomes tons of customization, with whatever veggies and cheese you want! I enjoy adding corn and peas if I happen to have them. Also, a little bit of goat cheese would take this straight to decadence city, and some sriracha would be a great way to take the heat up a notch. And some avocado would be awesome, because avocado is never not awesome.

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Comments

  1. says

    I get the whole crazy, intense I’m-going-to-murder-someone-if-I-don’t-eat-in-10-seconds in the mornings!
    Oh man, oatmeal. On certain freezing cold winter mornings, when I’m pre-emptively dying from the fact that I’m going to have to cycle to school in that cold, there’s always the stupid old wives’ tale that pops into my head. “oatmeal is warm, oats keep you full for soooo long, there’s so much energy in them, low GI, fibre, fullness, blah blah blah” that makes me think, “oh yeah, great, oatmeal = warm and fast to make, cool.” And so I make it (which inevitably takes longer, and has more washing up than toasting some bread, which is what I should have done), and I pour on the maple syrup and start to stir it in. I then remember that as soon as you stir ANYTHING liquid into oatmeal, unless its mashed banana or like freakin coffee or something (ew), the flavour JUST DISAPPEARS. So I have to add more maple syrup (it’s too precious to be wasting on this, I might as well have made pancakes, which would be way better). Halfway through eating it, I, like you, realise that this just isn’t my jam, and then I start to feel nauseous. Greatttt…. plus by 10am I’m overcome by even more ravenous hunger than I’d had that morning. WHY DOES IT DO THIS?! I’m fine with eating a small bowl of oatmeal (I have to make it with old fashioned oats or it’s just major-mush-town) as a midday snack, but breakfast is a no-no.

    This on the other hand, sounds delicious! (I’m a mega fan of putting eggs on top of grains or soup, that yolk just makes the best sauce evarrr) And seems like something you could (and would) literally eat for any meal. Awesome.

    ps. thanks for the link-back ;)

    • says

      Hahahahaha, that is EXACTLY what I do!! So much maple syrup. I also add lots of salt too, because I love the combination of maple and saltiness. (I blame the sap/pancake house I used to wait tables at for that. I would get a giant plate of everything [eggs, bacon, pancakes, toast], enthusiastically salt the eggs, then just cover EVERYTHING with maple syrup.) But yeah, between all that maple and all that salt, the nausea hits hard.

      I remembered last night after this went up (and consequently had to add a little addendum to my post) that I would regularly order a bowl of oatmeal and an English muffin at a local diner a couple years back, and I didn’t mind that. They also brought you a heaping bowl of brown sugar to go with your oatmeal, which was pretty awesome. It occurs to me now though that these may have been lunch outings, not breakfast, so maybe I too just need to enjoy a good breakfast before I can stomach an oatmeal snack! :)

    • Jennifer Terry says

      Amen. It’s because oatmeal is pretty much all carb. And I might as well eat the box it came in, for as good as it tastes…. blehhh. That stuff is out of my system so fast! Need some serious protein.

  2. says

    This looks amazing – I can’t wait to try it! And I feel you with the oatmeal; I actually like the stuff, though. I have to get up really early for class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and while at the beginning of the year I actually cooked things, by now mornings where I don’t want to engage my brain and stare at the fridge are oatmeal mornings!

  3. says

    Yes, someone who understands rage-hunger! This is important. I like you.

    I used to have that same routine. Couple cups of coffee, catch up on everything online, notice the clock, freak out about the lack of variety and inspiring breakfast ingredients, eat toast (and drink more coffee). Feel disgruntled.

    And legitimately! Quinoa lifted me out of the rut at one time too! Only I went sweet with it, making like a breakfast porridge of sorts out of it with almond milk, cinnamon, maple syrup, fruit etc. I like your savoury version though. Would totally hit that with some scrambled tofu. Yum.

    • says

      I’d love to give a sweet version a try this summer, when the farmers’ market is flooded with berries. I seem to be pretty fixated on savory breakfasts, and it would be nice to get myself to put down the salt shaker for once. If anything can convert me to sweet breakfast, it’s fresh strawberries. :)

  4. says

    this is so dramatical of me, but i feel like all my hungers are rage-y, insistent and demanding of my immediate attention.

    i didn’t grow up with oatmeal, but we did eat chao (rice porridge) sometimes which can have the same consistency. in the cold winter days i don’t mind it but then the heat hits and it’s gag inducing. this dish tho, it’s something that i’ve made with rice but never thought to use quinoa FOR BREAKFAST. it’s kinda genius.

    • says

      I have always been really curious about rice porridge, I suppose because I love rice when it gets kind of soft and sort of sticks together. I can definitely see it being more suited for winter comfort food than a refreshing breakfast in the warmer months, though. :) (Now I’m totally wondering if I’d enjoy oatmeal a little more if I was eating it on a cold, dark winter day? I must have already tried that though. Bah!)

      • Jessi Pancake says

        Sticky white rice with some butter melted in and topped with cinnamon and sugar. This was the breakfast my great-grammy always made me. It’s so warm and delicious and always makes me think of her.

  5. says

    Hi Carey, I discovered you today via Saveur, and I’m so glad I did! I love your voice–so relatable, and your photos–so natural and gorgeous. What prompted me to comment here is how you talked about how for a long time, you observed from afar. Well, that’s been me (shy by nature), but I want to change that, and today you inspired me to reach out, so thanks! :)

    • says

      Christine, your comment totally made my day! Breaking out of my shell and growing comfortable in this space was a huge step for me, and the fact that it struck a chord with you makes me so happy! I hope I see you around here often. :)

  6. says

    Anything with an egg on top of it is a perfectly respectable breakfast! Quinoa is so versatile – some weeks I just make one big batch and then eat it for a couple days. I’m going to have to try it for breakfast this time.

  7. says

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with oatmeal! (I love it, myself.) But a bowl of savory grain topped with a fried egg sounds like a perfect early morning meal to me too. Especially considering the beautiful runny yolk!

    • says

      Hehe! Right before I discovered quinoa for breakfast, I was toying with the idea that I might actually enjoy savory oatmeal. I may need to give that a try one day, just to see. :)

  8. says

    A fellow Wheatena lover! I thought I was the only one :) I have the same trajectory every morning, right about the time I hit ‘publish’ I realize I’m famished. While I usually resort to an English muffin, this looks much more satisfying.

    • says

      Yes! Oh my gosh, I am so glad to find someone else who understands the awesomeness of Wheatena! (No one in my family understands it, and my boyfriend doesn’t either.)

      I loooooove English muffins, and they’re one of those things I rarely think to buy, so they’ve pretty much become a special dining out for breakfast treat. I’ll be looking over a menu and it’ll suddenly dawn on me, “I bet I can get an English muffin with my breakfast! Best day ever!!” :D

  9. says

    I love eating quinoa with eggs and veggies for breakfast! I first discovered this in that same “I need to eat now!” mind set. I threw some leftover quinoa and kale in a skillet and topped it with a fried egg. I’m definitely going to try cooking my quinoa in a combination of milk and water for breakfast now. Sounds great!

    I recently started following you since seeing your burnt whiskey sours on Food Gawker. Your photography style is gorgeous and reminds me of photos on the Pastry Affair. You both have such a rustic moodiness in your pictures that I love. I’m excited to be following your blog! Can’t wait to see what else you have in store!

    • says

      Oooo, I’m definitely putting kale in this next time! (How did I not think of that?) Crunchy bitter greens with cheese and eggy-ness — YUM.

      Thanks so much, Ellie. :) That’s a huge compliment too, as I’m a really big fan of Kristin’s work. So glad to have you as a new reader!

  10. says

    Yessssss, I love breakfast porridges! I’ve only made them a few times and it was always Asian-styled with rice and a heaping dose of sriracha. I need to try this quinoa version asap though because I almost never eat rice anymore because of quinoa, it’s like rice except waaay better for you and even tastes better (to me, anyway!)

    The only downside is that it is so expensive at the normal grocery store ($10 for a small box!) that I have to make special trips to Trader Joe’s to find reasonably-priced quinoa (about $4 for a 16 ounces). Is it expensive at your market? Maybe I just need to check out more chains. Or start ordering it in bulk online. I have 4 baby quinoa plants I’m growing and really hoping they do well and produce a good amount. I am nervous the summer will be too hot for them those, so we shall see…

    Also, I am sooooooooo happy and excited for you about Saveur!!!!! HURRAY!!!! Seriously, so awesome for you!!!!

    P.S. I don’t know if I ever mentioned it to you but I read a book recently that I think you would really like, it’s called “The Queen Must Die, and Other Tales of Bees and Men” and it’s all about bees, which sounds like it could be tedious, but it’s written in the most though-provoking and moving way. It really made me want to keep bees but then all my LA neighbors would hate me so I am saving that dream for my Oregon-someday-farm.

    • says

      Oh man, I know those $10 boxes! Both of the natural foods markets here sell it in bulk, so I can usually get white quinoa for around $4.50/lb (and then the price gets a lot higher for red and black quinoa — why?!).

      The same exact thing happened with me and rice. First, it was brown rice, then I got really into barley, and then I discovered quinoa. Now it’s pretty much the only thing I eat. It’s so good and so healthy, and it stays just a little crunchy (or “toothsome,” as I heard a judge on Chopped once say :P) — it can’t be beat!

      Thank you for the Saveur congrats! I still can’t believe that actually happened. I FUHREAKED out when I got the email from them a couple weeks ago. :D

      I would love to read a book about bees. They are fascinating creatures, and such an important part of nature that’s often taken for granted. I bumped into one of my old downstairs neighbors last year, and he mentioned he had bees at their new place outside of town. So cool. (Unfortunately, I didn’t give him that impression though, since I took it to mean they had some sort of household infestation, and just made a concerned/horrified face. Then about an hour later, I realized what he meant. *facepalm*) Also! This reminds me that I need to email you because I FINALLY started reading 6 Glasses. (I actually started it a while ago, when I was in NY, and then I got sidetracked. I need to get back to that!)

  11. says

    Oh, this looks just fabulous! These photographs have really gorgeous lighting. Lovely work, Carey. I’ve been a follower of your work for quite some time and you always manage to take the most beautiful photographs.

    I make something shockingly similar to this for lunch, but instead of quinoa, I use egg noodles. For some reason I’ve got it in my head that quinoa can only be a breakfast food, drowned in almond milk and fresh fruit. I have such a sweet tooth in the morning. I, too, love the runny yolks. The best part is stabbing it and letting the yolk run all over the rest of the food. I dream of runny yolks… Anyway, I’ll have to give this a try with quinoa. Perhaps it will convert me towards seeing quinoa in a more savory light.

    • says

      Thank you so much, Kristin! :)

      I’m aiming to make myself try a sweet version of this in the summer, when there are tons of fresh berries. (I eat so much savory stuff throughout the rest of the day, it would be nice to mix things up [and try to kick my salt habit].) Also, egg noodles + veggies & runny eggs = YES! So good.

  12. says

    I gotta give oatmeal some love. Remember when I was totally going to get on that Beet Hash Breakfast Wrap train? I didn’t. I just kept making oatmeal in the mornings. If my mornings involved a more complex breakfast than oatmeal, I would be ragey. Oatmeal is just so comfortably worked into my morning routine–and you know how badly I need my routine–that if I did anything else, sh*t would hit the fan. That makes me sound crazy, but it’s the truth. Also, with some blueberries, a bit of maple syrup, and some pecans, my morning oatmeal is mad delicious, yo. And I scarf it because a) I’m hungry as hell and b) I don’t want it to get cold and gross. So there is that to worry about, but it still makes a great breakfast.

    That being said, this sounds friggin’ amazing, and I would so make something like this…if I could figure out how to work it in to the routine :)

    • says

      Hehehe. I felt kind of bad hating on oatmeal so hard after I wrote this. I really do want to like it, but there are so many bad memories. But GUESS WHAT — after thinking about it so much, I actually made some today, just to see what would happen! And it actually wasn’t that bad! I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I cooked it with less water for a shorter amount of time, so the oats still had some nice texture to them. Also, I put salt and cheese and veggies in it. So hey, there’s hope! Making the savory version got me thinking that I might like to do crazier things with it like putting bacon in it and then baking it up like a casserole, so it can get nice and crisp on top. I’d probably really like the texture that the crispy top would add, since that’s my favorite part of mac & cheese. And also the crispy bacon, of course.

      I’m making it a point to experiment with it, and then maybe I can do a redeeming “Oatmeal, Carey-Style” post. :D

  13. says

    I am so divided on sweet and savory for breakfast. Whenever I go out to brunch with Chris, I try persuading him to eat family-style, so I can eat both his pancakes and something savory alongside (is that weird? He always balks at the idea as if it’s completely blasphemous). Anyway, breakfast quinoa sounds like such a genius idea! And one that Chris just might be willing to split with me. He’s got a thing for fried rice, which these bowls kind of remind me of (including the infinite adaptability!), and the fried eggs on top would make both our days. (I am jealous of your fried egg making skills, Carey! They are perfect.)

    But, like Brianne, I too have to give a shout out to oatmeal. I associate it with a time in my life when I used to have to leave for work at 7 in the morning, which meant no time for a sit-down breakfast. I would come out of the subway station, beeline for the nearest breakfast spot, and pick up a medium order of their steel-cut oatmeal with brown sugar, cranberries, and slivered almonds. In that context, it was SO SO good, especially after I’d gotten settled in at my desk, with a steaming mug of coffee to one side. (But, I admit, I haven’t touched oatmeal since, so I guess I don’t like it that much, hahaha.)

    • says

      I totally understand that desire for both sweet and savory at breakfast. I definitely tend towards savory things at home, and even when I’m having breakfast out. But I always want maple syrup for my toast and bacon. (Well, for the whole plate, truthfully, because I like to pierce the eggs and then mix the yolks up with maple syrup and dip everything in it. It’s disgusting. I think Johnny hates eating in public with me.)

      I’m starting to think that my problem is simply that I don’t know how to cook oatmeal! I was telling Brianne that I actually made some savory oatmeal for an afternoon snack today, and I didn’t mind it! The texture was a lot better, because I didn’t use as much water and I let it cook for less time. The salt and cheese and crunchiness of the veggies definitely helped too, so maybe I’m on to something here. I did realize today that I’m not sure if I have the patience for oatmeal. It’s not so much the actual cooking time, but the time I have to wait for it to cool down before I can eat it without burning my mouth. :) BUT, I definitely want to play around more with savory oatmeal now.

  14. says

    We’re big on eggs in my house and tend to make the same 5 or 6 recipes over and over. I love the idea of incorporating quinoa into a breakfast and healthful veggies are a must! This is a gorgeous, well-balanced tasty meal!

  15. says

    I love, love, LOVE this idea! Sometimes I really don’t want something sweet in the morning, and this sounds like it would be a perfect antidote to that. If you’re interested, we’re rounding up egg recipes for this month’s Shine Supper Club, and I’d love to be able to feature this. Hope you’ll join us!

  16. says

    I just found your site and it’s gorgeous. I’m in love with your photography. This breakfast sounds so good! I actually have some leftover quinoa from dinner last night…THIS is where it’s headed this morning…I’m starving! Thanks so much!

  17. says

    This looks great! I’ve done something similar for dinner in the past.

    Just thought I’d share: a sweet take on your quinoa for breakfast idea is one I saw in a magazine a while ago. Cook the quinoa as you normally would, pour some milk over it, add a handful of blueberries, a spoonful of maple syrup, a dash of cinnamon, and a handful of whatever nuts you have around. Then just nuke it and you’ve got some seriously awesome hot cereal (not to mention a new alternative to oatmeal)!

    • says

      Thanks, Sean! And yes! — bibimbap. I did a veggie bibimbap with quinoa last year, and it occurred to me as I was putting this dish together that the two were very similar. It just needs a little bit of chili paste. :)

  18. Heidi says

    I made this dish this morning for my husband and I. For veggies we had broccoli, shallots, yellow bell pepper, and mushrooms. We topped it with sriracha. We both give this one a thumbs up! Will definitely make it again and I’ve bookmarked your blog. Can’t wait to try other recipes you have.

  19. Dawn says

    We love quinoa and have eaten it for about 6 years . . . But I’ve only ever made it with solely water. Now I’m completely curious how different it is with the milk! Looking forward to trying this recipe. HOORAY for runny eggs! LOL

  20. Andrew says

    This was phenomenal! Thank you Buzzfeed for a post all about quinoa! I made mine with corn, peas, sriracha, fresh garlic, and Parmesan (and of course an egg. Wish I could ooach eggs properly, would’ve been better) Best breakfast I’ve had in a while.. Loved it so much I made a batch for the week!!!

  21. gloria says

    this was so ironic i just got done eating quinoa,scrambled eggs,broccoli,and salsa,then i saw this,it kinda freaked me out because about the only thing different is i had the quinoa already cooked and i scrambled my egg because sunny side are not my favorite egg,i am not fond of the whites..i also have to add i never liked oatmeal,hated it,made me sick,until i started eating steel cut oats,a lot better and the taste is so good,now i have my oats n eat-em too..LOL

  22. mollie says

    Why don’t you just eat first thing, before the gee-I-haven’t-eaten-in-8-to-12-hours hunger turns into rage hunger? I can’t concentrate on anything (except maybe looking up breakfast recipes on the Internet) until I’ve eaten.

    I was always fed oatmeal (from those little pre-flavoured, pre-measured instant packs) before school because my parents insisted it was warm and kept you full longer. WRONG!! I think I was 9 when I figured out that I was hungrier by 10am on days when I ate oatmeal than I was by lunchtime on days that I didn’t eat ANY breakfast. …

    I’ve tried your strawberries and cream quinoa breakfast porridge — delish!! Want to try this, too, but am dairy free. What d’you suppose you could put in instead of cheese to give a nice flavour & texture? Cheers!

    • says

      Hi Mollie! Nutritional yeast would give it a nice flavor, though perhaps not the same creamy texture. A non-dairy nut-based “cheese” would probably do the trick too.

  23. Nicole says

    This is one of the most delicious recipes I’ve ever made. I used vanilla soymilk by mistake and it didn’t even matter. So delicious! Thank you!

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