Today's subject is oats, as in real oats, as the kind that are oval-shape and have texture, as in not the ground-up mush that comes in packets or in the quick-cooking box. But the instant oats are just so conveniently instant, you say. Or maybe you say that all oatmeal is that nasty porridge that you, like poor Baby Bear, were forced to eat by Mama Bear.
I am here to argue that (1) oats do not require laboring over the stove in the time you don't have and (2) their whole-food, nutty texture is soul-warmingly delicious with a heartiness that sticks with you until lunch.
1. The Super Easy Way: Nuked Oats
News flash: you can microwave real oats. You simply put water and oats in a microwave-safe bowl; nuke it for 3 1/2 minutes; and then stir some combination of brown sugar, nuts (I like walnuts!), milk, and/or berries. See oats box for instructions for different servings.
Word of Warning: Real oats puff while in cooking this super-fast way, so unless you want an oatmeal explosion in your microwave, cook it in a bowl (or casserole dish or, my favorite make-do container, a glass bread pan) three to four times the volume of the oats.
2. The Hands-Off Way: Baked Oats
Baking oats with a few extra ingredients makes for a taste and consistency that is a cross between an oatmeal cookie and traditional oatmeal. This recipe won me over with its fresh strawberries and garnish of warmed strawberry jam. Beat that, Strawberries and Cream Instant Oatmeal.
It takes 40 minutes to bake, but because you only stir it once, all the magic happen while you do everything else that needs to be done in the a.m.
Mad Update 3/1/12: My new favorite way to make baked oats is with strawberries and bananas!
1. Layer banana and strawberry slices in a baking dish.
2. Mix oat mixture prescribed in recipe (sometimes I skip honey and use more brown sugar) and spread on top of fruit.
3. Bake 20 minutes uncovered then 20 minutes covered, no stirring required.
4. Serve with plain Greek yogurt and fresh strawberry slices.
*I also like to make extra and reheat it for multiple days in the microwave.
How do you eat your oats?
Strawberry Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from The Fresh Market
1 1/2 cups regular oats (not quick-cooking)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/3 cup plain applesauce
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, chopped
Strawberry jam, warmed
Plain Greek-style yogurt (optional)
Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, stir together oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine milk, egg, applesauce, honey and brown sugar. Add to mixture and stir until combined. Pour into a greased baking dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir mixture and fold in berries. Bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Spoon into bowls and serve with yogurt and warmed strawberry jam.
Yield: 3 servings