We're jumping up and down with excitement over here at The Kitchn — our very own Megan Gordon has just published her first cookbook and it is gorgeous! The cookbook is called Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons and it is full of recipes to start your day, take to a brunch, or linger over on a lazy Saturday morning. We're about things like breakfast bars stuffed with oats and jammy fruit, egg tarts with tender millet crusts, and of course — from the Granola Queen herself — plenty of seasonal granola recipes.
Today we kick off our celebration of Megan's new book with an interview with the author herself. Hear what she has to say about making healthy breakfasts a habit, best grains for beginners, and her favorite breakfast for busy weekdays!
First off, what did you have for breakfast this morning?
I had leftover polenta with a fried egg on top — heaven.
Breakfast is a meal that I think a lot of us overlook, even though we know we probably shouldn't! What advice do you have for those of us struggling to get into a better, healthier breakfast routine?
I’d say to make things as easy on yourself as you can. Get into the habit of cooking a big pot of grains at the beginning of the week, which you can then make into breakfast bowls or warm salads for days to come. Oatmeal also reheats beautifully, so you could double a batch of that towards the beginning of the week and add different toppings to keep things fresh and exciting for yourself.
Also, make a batch of granola bars or breakfast cookies to have on hand for those mornings when you’re racing out the door and need something quick and delicious on-the-go. For a good hit of protein, you can make the Easy Gruyère Soufflé Recipe in my book, but cook them in muffin tins instead of ramekins so you can quickly reheat them in the microwave throughout the week — more and more these days, I’m craving savory in the morning and those really do it for me.
Let's say someone is just getting into whole grains — where should they start? What grains are the best for beginners?
Ah! If you’re into baking and curious about whole grain flours, I always tell people to start with spelt flour. It’s a great “starter” flour because it acts much like all-purpose flour in recipes (your muffins will rise just fine, your scones will be crumbly and tasty) and it has a very mild flavor.
As for grains themselves, quinoa is a popular quick-cooking grain that can be found in most grocery stores. To be quite honest, I’ve grown a bit tired of it, so we do more millet in our house these days! Millet is another quick-cooking gluten-free grain that has a mild corn flavor. It is great as a pilaf or morning porridge (you can also just toss it raw into your favorite baking recipe for a little added crunch). As for heartier grains, farro is a wonderful slower-cooking choice with a lovely nutty flavor and chewy texture.
Was there any grain in particular that you discovered and fell in love with while working on this book?
Toward the end of writing the book, I discovered sorghum (our friends Shauna and Danny made us a delicious sorghum salad for lunch one late summer day) and it kind of rocked my world. It reminds me a lot of Israeli couscous, so that’s how we use it now — in substantial, seasonal grain salads like the Spiced Butternut Squash and Sorghum Salad with Raisins & Pepitas that I shared here on The Kitchn last fall. I’m excited to try popping it, too, to use as a topping on yogurt or to fold into granola bars or muesli.
What was the most interesting thing you learned while working on this book — a new recipe, a favorite tool, an interesting technique?
Hmm, I’d say probably the effect that toasting grains in a little butter can have on the overall flavor of a dish. My partner Sam taught me to toast my oats in butter before making oatmeal or porridge and it makes the house smell nutty and dreamy. But in writing the book, I began to experiment with toasting other delicate grains and flakes in a little butter before using them in a recipe and found that it really draws out some of their earthier, nuttier flavors (try this with millet!).
What about a last-minute breakfast for the days we forgot to plan?
One of the nice things about Whole-Grain Mornings is the Basics chapter at the very beginning — it includes recipes for a do-ahead Whole Grain Pancake Mix, DIY Granola, and a Five-Grain Porridge Mix, among many others. The gist of the section is to make a few mixes and pantry staples ahead of time so that when you find yourself standing amidst a busy morning, you can still whip up a quick batch of pancakes or have a killer bowl of granola.
Beyond the book, we do a lot of breakfast burritos around here or avocado toast with a fried egg — those are usually really doable, satisfying options that don’t take too much time out of the morning.
If someone has a little extra time on a weekend morning, which special recipe should they make?
I’d say the Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche Tart with Cornmeal Millet Crust. I love that recipe so much — the cornmeal crust is deliciously savory and a little crunchy thanks to the added millet (plus, no need to roll it out!) and the filling combines so many of my favorite flavors in a pretty simple custardy base. It’s like a breakfast tart or a more diminutive quiche. Another favorite for a mellower weekend are the Zucchini Farro Cakes or the Saucy Baked Eggs with Kale and Wheat Berries.
Thanks so much, Megan!
Readers, check back tomorrow — we'll be sharing Megan's recipe for Blueberry Breakfast Bars.
→ Whole-Grain Mornings is out now! Find Megan's book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons by Megan Gordon
→ Read more about Whole-Grain Mornings at Megan's personal blog: A Sweet Spoonful