Breakfast bakes are forever entwined with the holidays for me, because the first time I ever tasted one was Christmas week at a friend’s lake house in Michigan. My friend’s mom notably wrangled our gang of overnighting 20-somethings with the imperturbable grace of a seasoned host. When she served her breakfast bake I remember thinking what an ingeniously carefree way it was to feed a hungry group. (I recognized that kind of thing even back then.) I also recall the dish being very delicious, and incredibly rich, loaded with sausage, cream and lots of cheese.
Now that I am the one in charge of feeding pajama-clad friends and family during the holidays I happily lean on breakfast bakes too, sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, but always re-envisioned to be more produce-focused and healthful, yet just as satisfying. Even when it’s just me and my husband, a bake comes in handy as a reheat-able breakfast at the ready.
This version is my new favorite, brimming with both holiday flair and nutritional goodness. It’s similar to baked oatmeal, but instead of the single whole grain, this dish also has quinoa and chia seeds, which add alluring texture (and color, if you use red quinoa), plus protein and healthy fats. Steeping the quinoa and chia steep in boiling water as you prep the rest of the ingredients gives them a head start on softening, so they are optimally tender as they meld with the oats in the oven.
As the dish cooks, it perfumes the kitchen in the most homey, comforting way, thanks to the warm seasonings — maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon — and the aromas released as the fresh apple and cranberries bake.
Digging in to the tender hearty grain-seed mix, with its softened sweet and tart fruit, toasted pecans and bright bits of chopped crystallized ginger is an entirely new and exciting breakfast bake experience, a festive and carefree way to serve a crowd, or have breakfast on hand for one or two for several days, that will set you on the best possible track for the day ahead.
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- 2 tablespoons mild olive oil or other neutral oil, plus more for brushing the pan
- 1/2 cup (3 ounces) quinoa
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 1/4 cups boiling water
- 1 1/2 cups milk (whole or reduced-fat, or unsweetened plant milk)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (5 1/4 ounces) rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 medium unpeeled Golden Delicious apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) pecan halves, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries (if frozen, no need to defrost)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish or 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with oil.
In a large bowl, stir together the quinoa and chia seeds. Pour the boiling water over them and stir to combine, then let sit for 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl or pitcher, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, oil and vanilla.
Stir the soaked chia and quinoa to combine them well, then add the oats, cinnamon and salt and stir until evenly combined. Add the liquid ingredients and stir to combine, then stir in the apple, pecans, cranberries and ginger.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and continue baking for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the mixture is set and the apples have softened and the cranberries have begun to burst. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Per serving (about 1 cup, using oat milk)
Calories: 411; Total Fat: 21 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 120 mg; Carbohydrates: 53 g; Dietary Fiber: 8 g; Sugar: 20 g; Protein: 9 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
From cookbook author and registered nutritionist Ellie Krieger.
Tested by Olga Massov; email questions to email@example.com.
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