Change up the grains, feel alive again
If I have to look at another bowl of breakfast quinoa I may cry. As much as I love the tiny seed tossed into a salad, I’m getting a little tired of seeing it in porridge form. Until I started making quinoa grits, that is. Quinoa grits combine all the creamy, cheesy, hearty qualities of the classic corn-based dish with the “Wow I sure do have a lot of this stuff in my kitchen” quality of quinoa. As a staunch defender of both savory breakfast and mushy food, in quinoa grits I find respite from the chewy and crunchy dried fruit and granola bars all too available in the mornings. Just sit me in front of a pot of quinoa grits, hand me a spoon, and walk away.
To start a pot of quinoa grits, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it begins to foam. Add 1 minced shallot and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Saute until the shallot is translucent. (Sometimes I just melt the butter, omitting the shallot, and move on with my life.)
While the shallot cooks, rinse 1 cup of white quinoa under cold water for about 2 minutes. Scrape the quinoa into the shallot mixture, then stir in 1 cup of whole milk, 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock, and 1 cup of water. Add a big pinch of kosher salt and bring the mixture to a boil. When the quinoa comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer the grits, for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is soft and creamy. If the mixture looks like oatmeal, you’re good to go.
Throw another tablespoon of butter into the saucepan along with ½ cup shredded gruyere cheese, a small pinch of cayenne, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir the grits until the butter and cheese are melted.
Serve quinoa grits as is with a crack of pepper and a little more cheese, or bring on the toppings: sauteed greens, mushrooms, a fried egg, maybe a couple links of browned chicken apple sausage if you so choose. You might find this weird (until you try it, that is), but I believe the best way to eat quinoa grits—even with the shallots and cheese—is simply with a quick pour of cold maple syrup.