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Guess Who is Coming to Dinner

by Alexlyn Dundas

Photography courtesy of Brittany Chang

The least serious meal of the day is breakfast. We make sure we break for lunch and miss dinner only on the worst days, but we barely bat an eye walking out of the door in the morning with just a banana.

By the end of the week, we are so deprived of eggs, bacon and pancakes that we do not know which way to turn when brunch menus are handed to us. Savory or sweet? Can the arugula salad come with a side of French toast?

It is far more satisfying to let breakfast make its daily appearance—just have it for dinner.

An understanding of breakfast’s essence is necessary to transition this meal to its more dignified evening counterpart. Eggs, pancakes and cereal were not always exclusive to mornings. For dinner, breakfast can be spicier, nuttier, more bitter or sour—a savory affair.

Breakfast should embrace all of the complex flavor combinations of dinner. Be it eggs and toast or oatmeal and yogurt, there are hundreds of ways to reimagine breakfast as a dinner worth having.

“It is a poor figure of a man who will say eggs are fit only to be eaten at breakfast served as they can be in... countless fashions,” said food writer M.F.K. Fisher in her 1942 book How to Cook a Wolf.

“I have eggs for dinner at least three times a week because I don’t feel like cooking,” said Celine Morneau (COM ’17).

“I have eggs almost every night,” said Elly Hu (Questrom ’17).

Scrambles are the obvious choice, and many have survived on a single fried egg. But the wisest thing to do with a busy week ahead is to make a frittata.

“I make a frittata every week,” said a gastronomy student after a Tuesday class. “Classes run right through dinner so I pack a slice to eat during break.”

Frittatas are simple: beat eggs, add any additional items from the fridge and bake the mixture. Twenty minutes later, dinner is served—perhaps with a big salad, good bread and a glass of wine if one is feeling fancy.

If one has only a couple of eggs left, make savory crepes by mixing one or two with a cup of flour, milk and chopped herbs. Add in a few teaspoons of baking powder, corn and bacon, and those savory crepes just became griddlecakes.

French toast is no different. Swap the brioche and challah bread for a marble rye or rosemary focaccia and replace the syrup with an onion jam or pepper jelly. Then, instead of bacon or sausage, slice a chicken breast or leftover ribs.

“I love savory pancakes because of the variation,” said Morneau. “If the French toast is parmesan, I’ll try it. Anything parmesan I’m down for.”

In today’s renaissance of whole grains, oatmeal easily makes the transition from breakfast to dinner. The monotony of morning gruel gains new life at night.

“Oatmeal is great because it is so versatile,” said Alan Donovan, founder of Davis Square’s Oat Shop. “It isn't overly powerful, so it pairs well with different flavors. The heartiness gives it great texture to be mixed with sweet or savory flavors.”

Since Oat Shop opened, it has been the champion of savory oats. The menu has options fit for dinner, from the Great Greens bowl—herb pesto oats topped with avocado, kale chips and pumpkin seeds—to a Sushi Bowl of rice vinegar oats topped with avocado, roasted seaweed and ginger.

As a dinner option, Donovan likes his Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Bowl.

“It has a little spice, but also the sweetness and creaminess from the sweet potato,” he said. “It's a great combination of flavors and one of my favorite bowls at the moment.”

Perhaps the least conventional breakfast-for-dinner option is a bowl of savory yogurt. Though yogurt already has presence at dinner as the base for sauces like tzatziki or as a replacement for sour cream, it can easily become the main event.

Choose a strain that is hearty—skyr, labneh or even Greek mixed with ricotta—to ensure the portion is filling. Mix in anything from pesto and garlic to olive oil, salt and pepper. Then throw in vegetables like squash and beets, or maybe even chickpeas or white beans.

Yogurt may be the most difficult to imagine as a whole dinner, but the trick is to think of it much like oatmeal—as a blank canvas. Use strong flavors that pair well with yogurt’s creaminess and add vegetables and nuts to beef up the meal.

It takes a fair amount of creativity to see breakfast for dinner as anything more than breakfast at dinnertime. Try calling a tomato and cheddar frittata “second breakfast.” Or, add a glass of wine. Wine makes everything more distinguished.

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