The Best Baked Oatmeal (plus vegan + sugar free options)

BEST-BAKED-OATMEAL-VEGAN-SUGAR-FREE

Happy day-after-election-day to you! Phew.

Let’s not think about politics for a long while, shall we? Instead, let’s cook.

If you have Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, you already know that her recipes are as reliable as they come. Whole foods combine in often unusual ways but the results always hit the mark. Here you find the beautiful potential of vegetarian cooking. And you know to look through the ingredient list ahead of time to be sure you have everything on-hand since you know that her San Francisco pantry is stocked with such items as Castelvetrano olives, lavender thyme, and edible flowers, and yours may not.

Luckily, though, this cookbook speaks to the heart of those of us in small towns with small town markets. I know when I open one of her cookbooks, I’ll find thoughtful and practiced recipes that include sweeteners in judicious amounts, whole grains, dried fruits, and plenty of microgreens.

This is by far my favorite way to eat oats. Made with thick, hearty rolled oats, this dish calls for plump berries but you can substitute in your favorite seasonal fruit to your liking. Just right for a cool, autumn morning.

Baked Oatmeal

Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 walnut pieces, toasted and chopped (or pecans)

1/3 cup natural cane sugar or maple syrup*

1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk, plus more for serving**

1 large egg**

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled**

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2″ slices

2 cups blueberries, or substitute your favorite fruit

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375&degree;F with the top rack in the upper third of the oven. Generously butter the inside of an 8″ X 8″ square baking dish.

In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, sugar (if using), baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup (if using), the milk, egg, half of the butter, and vanilla.

Arrange bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle milk mixture over the oats. Scatter remaining berries and remaining walnuts across the top.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Drizzle remaining melted butter on top and warmed remaining milk as needed. Sprinkle with a few dashes of sugar or a drip or two of maple syrup for more sweetness. Enjoy!

*for sugar-free, omit sugar and maple syrup, and increase bananas to four. Thoroughly mash two and mix well into batter, using the other two as slices for the bottom layer.

**for vegan, substitute plant milk of your choice in for the dairy milk. In place of the egg, combine 3 tablespoons hot water with 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed. Let sit 5 minutes before adding to the wet ingredients. Replace melted butter with melted coconut oil.

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Another of Heidi’s cookbooks Near and Far, featuring vegetarian dishes inspired by her world travel and love of nourishing cooking.

I just got this and love it. It’s just see-through enough.

Breakfast cookies? I’m in!

Have a wonderful Wednesday.

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