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.

Breakfast Pilaf, Sweet or Savory
Recipe from VB6 by Mark Bittman

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 45 to 60 minutes

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
11⁄³ cups any long- or short-grain brown rice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 cups fruit, chopped if necessary
½ 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 1¾ 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.

Savory Breakfast Pilaf with Soy Sauce and Cherry Tomatoes (Don’t knock it ’til you try it!) Skip the spices and sugar. Substitute halved cherry tomatoes for the fruit, and chives or cilantro for the mint. Stir in 1 tablespoon soy sauce along with the liquid in Step 2 and add half of the cherry tomatoes. Continue with the recipe, stirring in the rest of the tomatoes and chives in Step 3. Pass more soy sauce at the table for drizzling.

Hot-and -Sweet Breakfast Pilaf
Skip the sugar. Substitute 1 tablespoon dried chiles or 1 chopped fresh hot chile (like jalapeño or serrano) for the spices and add 1 chopped bell pepper and 1 chopped yellow onion along with the rice in Step 1.

Nutritional Info (with mixed fruit):
Calories: 343 • Cholesterol: 0mg • Fat: 6g • Saturated Fat: 1g • Protein: 6g • Carbohydrates: 68g • Sodium: 255mg • Fiber: 7g • Trans Fat: 0g • Sugars: 13g

Join Mark Bittman for a twitter chat!
Today, Tuesday, April 30th, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. EST, New York Times bestselling author Mark Bittman is hosting a Twitter chat to discuss his new book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health For Good, on sale tomorrow.
All you have to do is tweet @bittman using the hashtag #VB6. Search for the hashtag to join the conversation.

Where: Twitter
When: Tuesday, April 30, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. EST
Hosts: @Bittman, @TheRecipeClub
Hashtag: #VB6