Recipe: Mark Bittman's Breakfast Pilaf, Sweet or Savory

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Makes: 4 servings
Time: 45 To 60 Minutes

If you think you don’t have the time to make hot cereal, think again. Yes, this takes a while, but most of the cooking here is unattended, and if you make double (or triple) batches, you can do the actual cooking once and reheat servings in the microwave all week long. Rice is wonderful in the morning, but you can use quinoa or cracked wheat here without changing the technique at all. Steel-cut oats are good, too. Any of these will be ready with just 20 to 25 minutes of cooking time in Step 3.

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 1⁄3 cups any long- or short-grain brown rice
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 cups fruit, chopped if necessary
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh mint, for garnish (optional)

1. Put the oil in a large, deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the rice. Cook, stirring, until the kernels are glossy, completely coated with oil, and have started to color, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add a pinch of salt and the spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 3⁄4 cups water, the syrup, and half of the fruit: stir once or twice, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the mixture bubbles gently and cover the pan.

3. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is just tender, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the rice. Uncover, stir in the remaining fruit and half of the mint, if you’re using it. Replace the lid, and remove from the heat. Let the pilaf rest for at least 5—or up to 20—minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Fluff the mixture with a fork and serve, topped with the remaining mint.