baked oatmeal

Now that the weather is cooling off, I find myself wanting something warm and comforting for breakfast. I like regular oatmeal just fine, but its no comparison to baked oatmeal. My favorite is from Heidi Swanson's book Super Natural Every Day. It is absolutely delicious, and provides a healthy dose of whole grains, fruit and protein with just enough sweetness. The best part is, you can make it over the weekend and the leftovers provide you with a quick breakfast for the rest of the week (I just reheat in the microwave, adding a little milk if it seems dry).

Click below for the recipe:

Baked Oatmeal
adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

-2 cups rolled oats (not instant!)
-1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
-1/3 cup sugar or maple syrup
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
-2 cups milk
-1 large egg
-3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
-2 tsp pure vanilla extract
-2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2" pieces
-1 1/2 cups blueberries, or mixed berries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat the oven to 375 F with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter the inside of an 8" square baking dish, or 1 1/2 qt casserole. While the oven is preheating, you can toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for a few minutes until they darken and get fragrant. 
In a bowl, mix together the oats, the sugar (if using), the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Once the walnuts are toasted, chop and add half of them to the oat mixture. 
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the maple syrup (if using), the milk, egg, half the butter, and the vanilla. 
Arrange the bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the buttered dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple thwacks on the countertop to make sure the milk moves through the oats (or just combine both mixtures into one bowl like I did in the above photo- oops!).
Scatter the remaining berries and walnuts across the top. 
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set (you may need to increase cooking time slightly if using a deeper casserole dish as shown in the photos). Drizzle the remaining melted butter on the top and serve. You can serve with a bit more maple syrup if you want it sweeter, though I've never found the need. 

This recipe is very forgiving and easily adaptable if you want to try different kinds of fruit and nuts. The original recipe calls for huckleberries, but I usually use blueberries or blackberries. I've had good luck using frozen berries when fresh are out of season. I think pears might be a delicious substitution for fall. According the reviews on Epicurious, you can even switch out the milk for soy or almond milk, though I haven't tried this yet.

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