Baked oatmeal + persimmons, toasted coconut, and vanilla
Here I am, the day before Thanksgiving, not talking about Thanksgiving food. This would be a perfect breakfast for an otherwise long weekend full of heavy dishes and indulging, and it would be particularly great to serve if you have guests in the house, but that’s just a coincidence. The main point is that this is a wonderful breakfast for when you have a bit of time in the morning – partially because it needs some time in the oven, but mostly because its very nature seems to most fit a slow, cozy, restorative sort of start to the day.
It’s rare, these days, that we have those sorts of mornings at home – between working, house guests, and out-of-town weekend plans, only once or twice since we’ve been in Madison have we had a morning with nowhere to be. So, when two weekends ago we had a cold, gray day with nothing on the schedule until the afternoon, I knew immediately that I’d turn to this recipe. Oatmeal, baked slowly with spices, maple syrup, milk, and an egg, plus fruit and/or nuts and/or any other toppings you might think to add. I knew going in exactly what I wanted to add – cubes of persimmon, toasted coconut, pumpkin and flax seeds, and vanilla. I’d been adding those things to my regular, everyday oatmeal in the mornings, and I couldn’t get over how well they all went together.
The basic structure for the recipe comes from Heidi Swanson (the writer behind 101 Cookbooks and author of a number of gorgeous cookbooks), though in it making the rounds of food writers and bloggers it has spawned many dozens of variations. The original has blueberries, bananas, and walnuts, among other things, and that goes to say that the recipe is really quite flexible for whatever sorts of things you want to add.
And if you’re wondering why you might make this versus the regular stovetop stuff, I’ll give you some reasons. Where regular stovetop oatmeal softens into something porridge-like, here the individual oats fully cook but stay distinct, somewhere in the space between regular oatmeal and muesli. It’s warm and sweet but not in a way that weighs you down, and the more fruit and nuts and seeds you add, the more virtuous it seems. It’s a lovely, special breakfast dish that doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed and sleepy, and during the colder months those sorts of dishes can be harder to come by.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Here’s to a table full of loved ones, gratitude, and a damn good meal.
Baked oatmeal Adapted from a variety of sources, all pointing back to Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day
- 2 cups rolled oats
- Around 1/2 cup nuts and/or seeds (here I used pumpkin seeds and flax seeds)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1-2 cups fruit, fresh, frozen, or dried (here I used cubed fresh persimmon and shredded dried coconut)
- 2 cups whole milk (add in some cream if you’re feeling particularly luxurious)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (honey or agave syrup would work well too)
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Milk, honey, or other items for serving (optional)
– Heat oven to 375F. Choose a baking dish around the size of an 8-inch cake pan. I could have easily done a double batch in the dish I chose because the sides are high enough.
– Combine dry ingredients and add fruit Mix together oats, nuts/seeds, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. You can do this directly in the baking dish to avoid having to wash another bowl. Add at least 3/4 of your fruit to the dry ingredients and give a quick stir to combine. I added a small amount of persimmon and coconut on top at the end with the hopes that the coconut would toast and brown (it didn’t, really), so I could have mixed it all in. Depends on what you want the final product to look like.
– Combine and add wet ingredients Whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and give a quick stir to mix.
– Bake for 35-45 minutes or until everything has set and the top is lightly browning. Let cool for at least a moment before serving. We ate ours with milk and another drizzle of honey.
Making ahead/storage: You can combine the dry ingredients the night before. Leftovers will keep, covered, for at least 3 days. Reheat in a microwave or in a pan with a bit of milk.