Oatmeal. It’s almost an onomatopoeia: a word that sounds like what it is. Thick, and often the texture of paste, this is a dish that I think has received a bad reputation as a result of less than stellar preparation. Starting from scratch immediately improves the oatmeal situation. Soaking the oats overnight and cooking them with milk or cream, butter, a bit of salt, some fruit, some cinnamon, and maybe even a bit of sweetener to taste yields a bowl of porridge that cooks relatively quick, offers a variety of textures, and doesn’t overpower with its sweetness.
There’s still the trouble of “relative” quickness. I rarely have the time to get myself showered and out the door much less to cook breakfast before leaving. Enter baked oatmeal. The oats provide a medium to pack in nuts and fruit. Once baked, the oatmeal can be stored in the fridge for a week (and sometimes longer). I toss a square in a reusable container with a bit of yogurt and I’m the door. Even though my commute is relatively long (about an hour, which, in Portland, OR, is an eternity of a commute), my oatmeal is still fresh, springy, and slightly crisp on top by the time I get to work.
Though this takes a bit of advance planning, we usually put it together with whatever we have on hand. We’ll use walnuts, hazlenuts, and almonds interchangably (or even all together) in this one. Some weeks, there’s no nuts. Sometimes, we add dried fruit such as cranberries or figs. I’ve also been known to add in fresh fruit such as apples or pears.
- 3 cups rolled oats (don’t use quick cooking or instant oatmeal. Just good old fashioned oats)
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup milk or cream
- 1/2 cup nuts
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1tbsp yogurt (whey)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp salt
Soak the oats overnight in 6 cups of water with the yogurt.
Drain the water and rinse the oats. Pour in to a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the center of the oats. Crack the eggs, pour in the milk (or cream), honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Beat well then slowly add to the oats (think making pasta). Add in the walnuts and cranberries and mix well. Pour in to a greased baking dish (a 9″ equivalent – I used my square cast iron pan most recently) and top with little squares of butter. I usually use about two tablespoons total between greasing the pan and topping the oatmeal. This butter gives the top of the oatmeal a crisp texture and golden brown color that makes oatmeal unlike any other oatmeal.
Bake in a 350 degree oven approximately 30 minutes, or until the top just starts to brown and the oatmeal no longer jiggles when moved.
Serve with a healthy dollop of yogurt. Or have it for dessert with a bit of ice cream.