Thinking through what I want to post here for breakfast, I’ve come to realize that breakfast is a meal of approximations. Maybe that’s intentional–when you’re half-awake, who wants to fuss with exacting measurements and complicated recipes? The best breakfast foods come together with minimal fuss and in no more than half an hour. After all, we’ve got things to do.
During the winter months, we get excited about hot cereal, or porridges. Most whole grains make a nice porridge, and you can throw together some unique and nourishing blends by whizzing grains in your coffee grinder for a minute. We’ve done a nice interpretation of the Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free hot cereal with a blend of polenta, ground rice, quinoa, and millet. Unusual grains like buckwheat and teff are also fun additions if you have them available.
Hands-down, though, amaranth has to be my favorite porridge yet. Its tiny grains require no grinding, though you will need to rinse and drain them thoroughly before use. Quinoa and amaranth plants produce a bitter coating on their seeds called saponin, which deters birds from eating them. Some commercial processors pre-rinse and dry the grains before packaging, but you won’t find out if this has been done until you accidentally cook up a non-rinsed batch and experience the bitter taste for yourself. So, err on the side of caution and rinse, rinse, rinse.
Once you’ve rinsed your grains, add water in a 3:1 ratio, toss in a pinch of salt, and simmer for about half an hour. Porridge isn’t fussy; it just needs to be whisked every 10 minutes or so while your devise your plan for toppings and procure some coffee.
We’ve found that porridges are best with molasses-y sweeteners and milks with a higher fat content: brown sugar, turbinado, cane syrup, or grade B maple, and whole milk, hemp milk, or coconut milk. You can even sweeten with a spoonful of applesauce (as I’ve done here) or a dollop of your favorite jam or curd. Dried fruits are a natural addition: chopped prunes or dates, dried cherries or blueberries, and of course, raisins.
We love porridges because they’re hearty, comforting, and filling. Amaranth is a great source of protein and fiber, so a little goes a long way–a cup of cooked porridge will definitely keep you going until lunchtime.
Plus, it’s a pretty thing in the watery late-winter sunshine, wouldn’t you agree?
- 1/3 c. amaranth, or a blend of ground whole grains of your choosing
- 1 c. water
- pinch of salt
- milk, sweetener, and toppings of your choice.
- Over medium heat, bring amaranth, water, and salt to a high simmer in a saucepan. Reduce heat to a more gentle bubbling and cook about 30 minutes, until grains are cooked through and porridge is thick. I usually dribble in a little more water about 20 minutes in, and whisk occasionally to keep it from sticking.
- Serve with milk, sweetener, and toppings of your choice.