These days, we’ve pretty much come expect that the most random, throwback items will inevitably become trendy again. (Case in point: negronis, handlebar mustaches, prints that look like they came straight from the Golden Girls’ Miami couches.) Well, the theory holds true in the food world, too. And the latest example has to be the most unexpected of them all: porridge.
I first got the notion that gruel could be glamorous when I started to spot it on menus of pretty hot SF, LA and NYC restaurants. They had everything from savory versions featured at dinner to lightly sweet brunch options to full-on dessert porridges—and some pretty bold and exotic toppings to boot (fiddlehead ferns, pickled hearts of palm, and brown butter crumble among them).
Here’s the thing: They were surprisingly delicious, so much so that Food & Wine even let me wax poetic about my discoveries. And the next logical step was to think, “How hard could it be to make these at home?”
The truth is, much like making oatmeal, there’s no one version of a porridge recipe that will please everybody. You might like yours creamy or sticky, plain or extra-sweet, pure or covered in toppings. And that’s the best part: the choice is up to you! Here’s what I did, and a good base recipe to get started:
Mixed Grain and Seed Porridge // serves 2 hungry people
- ¾ cup colorful mixed grains such as buckwheat, red quinoa, and oats
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- pinch of ground cardamom
- pinch of kosher or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons mixed healthy seeds of your choice, like sunflower, pepita, chia, or golden flax
- sliced fruit
- coconut milk, almond milk or cow’s milk, for thinning the consistency
Go to the bulk aisle of the health food store and pick out a few yummy-looking grains and seeds.
Mix about 3/4 cups worth in a medium pot, then pour in around two and a half times the amount of water (so in this case, 1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup or so). Add the spices and bring the mixture briefly to a boil, then lower immediately to a very low simmer and cover the pot. Let it cook until the grains are tender, adding water little by little as needed to think it to the consistency you like. (Depending on the grains you use, you may need to add, like, a lot of water. Go with it.)
Then, slice up your choice of toppings. It’s citrus season where I live in Northern California, so I chose this kumquats, blood oranges and cara cara navel oranges. Adjust the seasonings to your taste, then top and dig in!
Prep Note // If you prefer your porridge on the creamy side, stir in some coconut milk, almond milk or cow’s milk and cook, stirring, for an extra minute or two to warm.
Anyone else have a favorite topping for this old-is-new again favorite?
Also, I just a little bit about me, since I’m new around here! I’m Stacy! I’m a food, travel and lifestyle writer who does a mix of writing and recipe developing for titles like Bon Appétit, Every Day with Rachael Ray and NPR. I met the lovely Cass on a food and wine trip to British Columbia, and will be popping up here and there on the blog to share recipes and chat trends. You can also check out my Instagram feed any time for edible inspiration!