Breakfast classics with a twist

0
Photo by Keri White

For the week of spring break, I offered our home to my daughter’s high school crew team as their clubhouse. The team has morning and afternoon practice and, as many of the athletes live far from the boathouse and do not drive, needed a place to seek shelter between sessions. This meant that I had anywhere from three to 20 teens at my home each day for a late, large breakfast.

Fortunately for me, they were not terribly picky. And fortunately for them, I am accustomed to cooking for a crowd, and offered a variety of healthy, wholesome dishes to fuel their oars. My primary goal was to churn out quantity without sacrificing quality, so the following recipes are easily doubled, and can be prepped ahead and upsized with very little added effort.


Coconut Quinoa Porridge
I pulled this recipe off the back of a box of red quinoa that I found on the discontinued rack of the supermarket. I tweak it slightly, according to what I have in the pantry, and it has become a breakfast staple in our house.  One great benefit is that it offers the convenience of store the batch in the fridge and pop individual servings in the microwave when hunger calls.

The dish delivers a healthy dose of plant protein, and is filling enough to see you through until lunch. You can top as desired with nuts, dried or fresh fruits, such as sliced bananas or berries, and toasted coconut. My favorite combined lightly salted cashews, dried sour cherries and toasted coconut chips, but you really can’t go wrong.

https://www.washingtonjewishweek.com/enewsletter/

Serves 4-6
Ingredients
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup red quinoa (white, or tricolor can also be used)
1½ cups coconut milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon almond extract (or ½ teaspoon vanilla or coconut extract)
Toppings:  nuts, fresh or dried fruit, toasted coconut, additional sweetener if desired.

Directions
Melt coconut oil in medium saucepan. Add quinoa and stir until coated and slightly toasted, about 2 minutes.


Add coconut milk and water, bring to boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Quinoa is cooked when ringed husk detaches from grain and it is soft to the bite.  If, after 20 minutes, this is not the case, add ½ cup more water and cook until done.

Add syrup or honey, cinnamon, and extract, stir, and cook a few minutes more.

Serve, topped as desired, or store in fridge until needed.

 

Breakfast Casserole, Sweet
This brings all the deliciousness of French toast without having to stand in front of the stove flipping endless batches. It is best prepared the night before and baked just before serving, and is a great way to use leftover, semi stale bread. I used challah, but any bread would work — crusty French or Italian, or hearty whole wheat breads would add heft and flavor.

This dish is quite versatile; you can skip the cream cheese, add a layer of toasted nuts sprinkled with brown sugar, sliced bananas, berries, jam. Your imagination and your pantry are the only limitations.

Serves 8 generously
Ingredients
1 loaf challah cut in cubes or torn into bite-sized pieces
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, cut in small cubes
8 eggs
2 cups half and half or milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup brown sugar
Confectioners’ sugar for serving.

Directions
Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Spread a layer of bread cubes in the bottom, then a layer of cream cheese cubes, and another layer of bread.

Mix the eggs, half and half, spices, vanilla and brown sugar in medium-sized bowl and whisk until thoroughly blended.

Pour egg mixture over bread slowly, allowing it to absorb. Cover the dish with foil, and refrigerate overnight.

Bake, covered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove cover, and bake another 10 minutes to allow top to brown. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve with warm maple syrup.

 

Breakfast Casserole, Savory
Like its sweet cousin, this dish is versatile and user friendly. Our group enjoyed both, but I think there was a slight preference for the sweet version. There is plenty of flexibility in this recipe; the version below gives a variety of options; pick what suits your palate and your diners’.

Serves 8 generously
Ingredients
1 loaf challah, cut in cubes, or torn into bite-sized pieces
8 eggs
2 cups half and half or milk
1½ cups cooked vegetables — try an assortment combining the following:  sautéed onions, chopped spinach, fresh or sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, pitted olives, chopped herbs, whatever you have in your fridge.
1½ cups shredded cheese (gruyere, cheddar, feta, mozzarella, Monterey jack or a combination)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Directions
Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Spread a layer of bread cubes in the bottom, then a layer of vegetables, then cheese, then another layer of bread. Save about 1/3 cup of the grated cheese to top the casserole.

Mix the eggs, half and half, salt and pepper in medium-sized bowl and whisk until thoroughly blended.
Pour egg mixture over bread slowly, allowing it to absorb. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover the dish with foil, and refrigerate overnight.

Bake, covered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove cover, and bake another 10 minutes to allow top to brown. Serve immediately.

Keri White is a food writer in Philadelphia.

 

 

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here