Cinco de Mayo Brunch: Fiesta Porridge Bowl!

Fiesta Porridge! I love porridge. I have been devouring it since I was little. I blame my father...


Fiesta Porridge! I love porridge. I have been devouring it since I was little. I blame my father who eats it for breakfast almost every day. My dad makes a thick oatmeal porridge with rolled oats and drenches it with maple syrup and cold milk. It's incredibly comforting and delicious. I ate my oatmeal that way too almost daily growing up. 

Despite my love for oatmeal, I admit that I always felt a little queasy after eating oats, most likely due to my wheat allergy (which I only discovered during the past 2 years). Most oats are contaminated with wheat and if you have a gluten sensitivity they can cause a reaction. For me it was an itchy and upset stomach. I stopped eating oats for the most part though I am interested to try certified Gluten Free Oats and see if I react. I have replaced my oatmeal porridge with a variety of gluten-free grain and seed porridges. I mix up different grains and seeds (like quinoa flakes and chia seeds) and cook them the way I would cook oats. At first I topped these porridge bowls with fruit, maple syrup or demerara sugar but I have been experimenting with savory porridge more and more over the last few months. I also don't eat porridge for breakfast anymore, I have my bowl as a dinner side dish in lieu of bread, pasta or rice.

This dish is the most savory bowl of porridge I have ever created. 

This meal was eaten for dinner originally but would also make a fantastic brunch entree. It would be perfect for this coming Sunday which happens to be Cinco de Mayo! The recipe began as a total experiment and has evolved into a true success! It's easy to prepare, gluten-free, corn-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan and totally delicious. It is thick and silky, and boldly flavored -- cheesy, spicy, and rich

  Two weekends ago my husband and I made some great vegan tacos. We both adore Mexican food and the meal was a real wake-up call for my taste buds. Spicy, savory, cheesy, amazing! A few nights later I started jonesing for the savory Mexican flavors that the tacos had. I didn't want to make the tacos again as it would require more time than I had that night. Instead I began making porridge with some leftover quinoa from our taco night. My experiment began with the addition of the Mexican spices we used for our tacos and then I remembered that Chinese rice porridge, congee, often incorporates pureed pumpkin or squash to great effect. I decided I would give it a go and added some leftover frozen squash into the mix. It was easy to mash into the porridge and gave it a lovely golden hue and gentle sweetness. It also made the porridge taste incredibly cheesy once I added nutritional yeast to it.

I decided that a porridge that savory deserved some condiments and garnish so I grated some cucumber for color and texture, added a dollop of salsa and made a vegan crema like the one we drizzled on our tacos. The dish looked great and was totally different from any bowl of porridge I ever had growing up. It tasted awesome too! I'm not sure how to describe it. I suppose that it tastes like a Mexican version of polenta -- minus the corn. 

When I first made this dish I brought it into our living room and set it down on our coffee table. My husband looked up from our i-pad and said, "that looks good...what is it?". I gave him a taste and he loved it...

"You can make this for me anytime you want...."He really liked it, in fact I had a hard time getting the bowl back from him.

"You don't want this, this is no good" he giggled, cradling the bowl and turning away from my hands as I grasped for it. I promised I would make him a bowl some night later in the week.

The next time I made this recipe I decided to change a few things. I toasted the spices and the millet together before I boiled them which gave the millet grits a chewier texture and smokey flavor. I  added extra butternut squash for silkiness and color, more vegetable broth  for a more savory taste, extra nutritional yeast and a bit of pumpkin seed butter for a cheesier and slightly nutty flavor and a rich texture to make the dish taste like it  had real cheese in it. The result was even better than my original batch. We both enjoyed it with salsa, grated cucumber and a vegan lemon crema drizzled on top. Warm, cheezy, spicy, tangy -- exciting flavors in a comforting package.

I am calling this bowl of bliss my Vegan Fiesta Porridge. If you are vegan and want something different and tasty for brunch, give this recipe a try. It would be a nice meal for a brunch with friends too. If you are not vegan but don't consume dairy or gluten, this makes a great hearty brunch or breakfast meal. If you eat eggs I'm certain that adding an egg (sunny-side up, fried, poached, over-easy) would be a delicious and hearty addition to the bowl.


The following recipes are:







Vegan Spicy Cheeze Porridge
Makes 1 large serving
  • 1/4 cup millet grits
  • 1/4 cup amaranth flakes
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup frozen butternut squash
  • 1.5 tbsp kelp flakes
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash sea salt
  • 1 level tsp pumpkin seed butter (or sunflower seed butter, or tahini paste)
  • 2.5 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • Squeeze of 1/4 small lemon
  • 6 tbsp leftover cooked red and black quinoa
  • 1/4 cup low sodium veg broth
  • 2 dashes natural rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp vegenaise
For a smokey flavor, lightly toast the millet and spices (except nutritional yeast and only 2 tsp of the chilli powder) together in a dry pan over medium high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring frequently, before adding water and bringing it to a boil.

If you don't enjoy smokey flavor, skip this step and follow instructions below.

Boil water. Add millet, sea salt, 2 tsp chilli, onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon. Add squash and stir thoroughly. Add chia and stir quickly to incorporate. Reduce heat to medium. Once squash is tender, mash it gently with a fork against the sides of the pot. Stir through. Add amaranth once the mixture looks like thin cream of wheat. Stir. Add nutritional yeast and stir to incorporate. Add veg broth and pumpkin seed butter and stir thoroughly until the clump of butter incorporates. Add 4 tbsp of the cooked quinoa, rice wine vinegar and lemon juice and stir through. Reduce heat to simmer once mixture is thick. Stir through vegenaise and remaining 1/2 tsp chilli powder.

Keep mixture warm over low heat, stirring often, until ready to serve.

Lemon or Lime Crema
Makes 1-2 servings
  • 3 tsp vegenaise
  • 1.5 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  •  1.5 tbsp water
  • 1 heaping tsp chia seeds
  • 1.5 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp kelp flakes
  • 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp chilli powder or 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients except vegenaise together thoroughly in a small bowl. Allow to sit in room temperature for 5-7 minutes before stirring through vegenaise. Allow another 5 minutes to thicken. Stir and drizzle on Fiesta Porridge or refrigerate until ready to use.

The Lemon or Lime Crema also makes a great salad dressing!




Vegan Fiesta Porridge Bowl
Makes 1 large serving
  • 1 batch Vegan Spicy Cheeze Porridge (recipe above)
  • 1/4 cucumber, grated
  • 2 tbsp store-bought or homemade fresh or cooked salsa
  • 2 tbsp cooked red or black quinoa (reserved from porridge recipe above)
  • 1 batch Lemon or Lime Crema (recipe above)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Transfer warm Vegan Spicy Cheezy Porridge to a large cereal or soup bowl or deep bowl. Top with salsa. Top salsa with the grated cucumber. Using a teaspoon, drizzle the lemon or lime crema over the bowl. Add the quinoa to the side of the cucumber. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the top if using. Serve.


Fiesta Porridge Bowl (non-vegan variation)
Makes 1 large serving
  • 1 batch Vegan Spicy Cheeze Porridge (recipe above)
  • 1 organic hen's egg (sunny-side up, over-easy or poached) or 2 sunny-side up quail eggs
  • 1/4 cucumber, grated
  • 2 tbsp store-bought or homemade fresh or cooked salsa
  • 1 batch Lemon or Lime Crema (recipe above)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cook your egg or eggs in your preferred style (poached, fried, sunny-side up, over-easy, poached).
 
Quickly transfer warm Vegan Spicy Cheezy Porridge to a large cereal or soup bowl or deep bowl. Top with salsa. Top salsa with the grated cucumber. Place the egg(s) beside of the grated cucumber. Using a teaspoon, drizzle the lemon or lime crema over the bowl. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the top if using. Serve.

 

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