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.
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.