The search for tasty, healthy breakfast dishes is a neverending quest. I am always looking for a breakfast that can be made ahead and munched on for several days, offering a tasty, easy meal each weekday morning. In the winter, my standby is my beloved steel-cut oatmeal, and sometimes, if I have extra time on the weekend, I'll make up a big pan of egg casserole with seasonal vegetables.
But now, as the summer heats up, what to make? Here's one idea: A fluffy, tender grain salad with oats, quinoa, and millet, nutty with hazelnuts and bursting with blueberries.
When we ran our Reader Request Week a while back, one request that stood out to us was from BabyGrace: "A make-ahead brunch recipe that is NOT a baked French toast or egg-based casserole." This dovetailed nicely with my own perpetual quest for a good make-ahead breakfast that was tasty and delicious, but still healthy with a dash of protein.
So we put our heads together, and Cambria and Emma almost simultaneously came up with the idea of a breakfast grain salad. Brilliant!
This idea worked well with another one of my goals for a summer breakfast dish: that it be as good cold as it was hot. I wanted a dish that didn't need to be cooked or warmed up in the morning — just thrown in a Tupperware and taken to work with you.
Dressed with yogurt, lemon juice, and maple syrup, these fluffy spoonfuls of grains and fruit are actually much more delicious when cool than hot. The salad even improves overnight in the refrigerator — a good thing for a make-ahead dish. So give it a try — and try it with other flavors too — it would be terrific with almonds and strawberries, or walnuts and roasted figs.
Breakfast Grain Salad with Blueberries, Hazelnuts & Lemon
1 cup dry steel-cut oats
1 cup dry golden quinoa
1/2 cup dry millet
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into coins
2 large lemons, zest and juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups hazelnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
2 cups blueberries or mixed berries
Mix the oats, quinoa, and millet in a fine mesh strainer and rinse for about a minute under running water. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rinsed grains and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until they begin smelling toasted. Pour in 4 1/2 cups water and stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt, the ginger coins, and the zest of 1 lemon.
Bring to boil, cover, turn down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Remove the ginger. Spread hot grains on a large baking sheet and let cool for at least half an hour.
Spoon the cooled grains into a large bowl. Stir in the zest of the second lemon.
In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the juice of both lemons until emulsified. Whisk in the maple syrup, yogurt, and nutmeg. Pour this into the grains and stir until well-coated. Stir in the toasted hazelnuts and blueberries. Taste and season with additional salt, if necessary.
Refrigerate overnight; the flavors of this really come together overnight in the fridge.
(Images: Faith Durand)