“If I don’t treat myself well in the morning, then I tend to treat myself poorly the rest of the day,” says chef Joel Hough, who’s been in the kitchen at Barbuto and Cookshop and now runs things at Il Buco and its crazy popular younger sister restaurant Il Buco Alimentari in Noho.
That’s one reason Hough’s expanded breakfast menu at Il Buco Alimentari, which launched earlier this month, is filled with fresh, energizing foods that will set you up for a day filled with healthy choices. Think avocado toast (obviously) and hot cereal made with whole oat groats, cracked farro, millet, quinoa, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
Speaking of chia, Hough says the menu’s chia pudding started selling like hot cakes as soon as it debuted. “It took off right away,” he says. “It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, chock full of protein, and it’s pretty light. It feels like you’re eating something really rich but it doesn’t affect your body that way.”
Hough serves it in a cute mason jar with agave and strawberries on the side so you can add as much sweetness as you want to the fresh flavor and creamy texture.
Or, check out the recipe below to channel his healthy breakfast culinary smarts at home. Hint: 90 percent of the recipe is actually making the almond milk, so if you want to cheat and use store-bought, it’s incredibly simple. Hough calls the packaged stuff “garbage.” But hey, we’re not all trying to impress diners at cool Manhattan restaurants. —Lisa Elaine Held
Il Buco Alimentari’s Chia Pudding
1 cup almonds (with the skin on)
3 cups filtered water
3 pitted dates
Pinch of sea salt
To begin, soak the almonds overnight in the water with the dates and a small pinch of sea salt in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours (24 is preferred).
Blend the mixture on high for one minute until smooth. Strain through a coarse strainer pushing the milk through with a spatula. Then pass through a fine strainer again pushing all the milk out with a spatula.
Fill 4–6 ounce cups (like a water glass or mason jar) halfway up with chia seeds (about 2-3 ounces of chia). Cover with one inch of almond milk and allow to set for 3-4 hours in the refrigerator. Serve with agave and fresh fruit.
For more information, visit www.ilbucovineria.com
(Photos: Lisa Elaine Held for Well+Good, Il Buco Alimentari)