Spring was 6 days away, and there was a blizzard warning. Why does winter wait until the last possible moment to make an appearance? I was angry at the nor’easter now dusting the crocuses and daffodils in snow and ice, but it also gave me an excuse to hunker down in the apartment and make a pan of baked oatmeal, a cozy yet long-forgotten breakfast dish.
I can’t recall the origin of this recipe, but I’ve doctored it so much that it’s probably safe to now call it my own. Previous iterations involved twice the sugar, a couple bananas and lots of blueberries.
While I liked that version, all that starch and sugar wreaked havoc on my appetite. Vicious hunger pangs at 10 a.m. do not make for a productive morning. So I reduced the sweetness by omitting the sugar and using a touch of maple syrup instead, plus dried fruit and grated carrots.
Yes, carrots for breakfast!
It’s kind of a middle finger to the cereal industry still trying to persuade you that a bowl of flakes and sugar is the healthy breakfast option (I’m looking at you Kashi!).
The addition of allspice, cardamom and tahini give this baked oatmeal a curious quality, plus a protein boost. It’s almost like a carrot cake that rebelled, unleashing itself from its predictable cloying sweetness and deciding to live on the edge of savory instead.
If you have an undying sweet tooth, you could drizzle with maple syrup when serving.
But doesn’t it feel good to rebel before 10 am?
Baked Oatmeal (for rebels)
2 cups rolled oats (not instant oatmeal)
¾ cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup coconut oil, melted if necessary
¼ cup tahini
2 cups grated carrots (the grater attachment of a food processor makes this quick work)
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
¼ cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease the inside of a 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine oats, half the nuts, shredded coconut, apricots, grated carrot, baking powder and spices.
In another bowl, whisk together the tahini and coconut milk until smooth. Tahini is thick, so this may take a minute or two. (I do this in a 4-cup Pyrex measuring bowl, for easier pouring later.)
Add the eggs, maple syrup, melted coconut oil and vanilla to the tahini mixture and whisk again until smooth.
Put the oat mixture into the baking dish.
Slowly pour the liquid over the oats, making sure to cover it completely.
Scatter raisins on top.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Add remaining walnuts on top of the oats and continue baking for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown, springs back when touched and the raisins have caramelized. Total baking time is 35 to 40 minutes.
Let cool slightly and cut into six squares for serving. Store in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven or microwave.