This is how I started out my morning. I’m not proud.
I was out and about, running errands and such. I drove by a Taco Bell, pulled in to get a soda and also ordered a 4 pack of Cap’n Crunch Delights. They are described thusly on Taco Bell’s website:
The new Cap’n Crunch™ Delights™ are warm, light pastries, coated with fruity Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries™ cereal and filled with creamy, sweet milk icing.
I’d like to point out a few flaws in this description. They are not warm and light. They are hot and greasy. They say they are ‘coated’ in Crunch Berries but I think it is a little more accurate to say that they are rolled around in some cereal crumbs. Creamy sweet milk icing? Umm… no. Not, really.
Imagine instead a hot greasy donut hole flavored with fruit punch Kool-aid powder and rolled around in the dregs at the bottom of a cereal box.
There are times when an indulgence is SO worth it. This was not one of those times.
When I got home, I decided to do something a little better for myself and also cross a line item off my Food52 Genius Recipes project list. I had the ingredients for Yogurt with Toasted Quinoa, Dates & Nuts so there it was! Culinary penance for the pink balls of shame.
Let me use a few adjectives to describe this dish. Creamy. Smooth. Nutty. Sweet. Subtle. Nuanced. Sublime.
This is a quick and simple dish to prepare. A few spoons of Greek yogurt. A small handful of chopped nuts and dates. Toast some quinoa in a skillet and toss it on the plate. A drizzle of honey. Lemon zest. You’ll be enjoying breakfast (or dessert!) in under 5 minutes. I think this is going to be my new Go To breakfast.
A few notes:
- Olive Oil vs. Honey. The original recipe calls for very good olive oil instead of honey. I’m thinking back to the best olive oil that I’ve ever tasted. It was light with some subtle citrus and floral notes. It was such an eye-opener to me. I had never tasted an oil like that. And, having had that experience, I tasted and considered the oils that I currently have in my pantry. Not bad, by any means, but none that I really wanted to be a leading player in this dish. What I had was some honey that came from an amazing apple orchard in Minnesota. I used that instead and it wasn’t a mistake. It did take the plate more to the sweet side and makes it something I’d serve for dessert as well as breakfast.
- Toasted Quinoa. This really added a little something-something to the dish, a bit of crispy crunch and texture. I just put a few tablespoons in a dry skillet and heated until it started popping and smelling nutty. It only took a few minutes. Most places recommend rinsing quinoa first, the thought being that the naturally occurring saponins can cause the grains to be bitter or soapy-tasting. Based on comments I’ve read on Food52, I decided not to. I didn’t have any problems with bad taste.
- Mix it up! Use different nuts and fruits, based on your preferences and what you have on hand. Check out the bulk dry goods bins in your grocery or health food store. You can get smaller amounts of things to get the variety without having to invest lots of cash in larger containers of fruit, nuts or quinoa.
- Lemon Zest. Unless you really don’t like lemon, I have to absolutely recommend not skipping the zest! It added a wonderful citrus note to the dish. This, for me, is what brought everything all together and took the dish from good to fabulous. A few drags of a lemon across a microplane, zester or small-holed grater and you’re good to go.
- ½ tablespoon red quinoa
- 5 shelled pistachios, chopped
- 5 almonds, chopped
- 5 macadamias, chopped
- 6 ounces whole milk Greek yogurt
- 2 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- Generous sprinkle of freshly grated lemon zest
- A pinch flaky sea salt or other finishing salt
- 1 to 2 teaspoons honey
- Heat a small dry skillet over a medium heat. Pour the quinoa in. The quinoa will being popping and smelling nutty as it toasts. Keep an eye on it as it will happen faster than you might think! Pour it into a small bowl to cool when it is done.
- Spread the yogurt on a small plate or in a shallow bowl.
- Scatter the nuts, dates and quinoa over the yogurt. Grate the lemon zest over it, sprinkle it with salt and then finish with a drizzle of honey.
Recipe adapted from Food52's Genius Recipes.