Oatmeal is such a sustaining and nourishing bowl of comfort that feels good when you eat it. And it feels good all the way as it goes through your GI tract. Sometimes, I crave oatmeal even for dinner after a draining day at work and I do not hesitate to satisfy that craving. Oatmeal has this reputation as being banal and unexciting, but I disagree—it just needs some good TLC and spicing up. This is a recipe that I’ve developed intuitively and I was not initially planning on sharing it on my blog because (let’s be honest) oatmeal is not sexy or “Instagram perfect.” But a handful people have requested this recipe and I decided to write it down and test it out. I hope that it fuels some passion in a dull or non-existent relationship that you have with oats.
I will sometimes make batches one morning and store in the fridge to have breakfast on hand for the next few days. Cold, refrigerated oats can be revived by heating up in a saucepan with a little bit of water or, in a pinch, microwaving.
I always have apples in my fridge, so I use what I have on hand (I prefer the sweet kind: jazz, honey crisp, ambrosia). Any type of apple would work here. I do go through periods of substituting the apple with a ripe pear caramelized in a hot oven, which also is fantastic.
I like to use dried fruits as natural sweeteners. You can use dried figs (less sweet) or dates (more sweet) or a combination of both. I buy Sunny Fruit individually packaged figs that are dried then ?rehydrated. I like them because of their moist texture but seriously dried figs have worked well too.
Browning the Butter
This is a key step in achieving the signature flavour of my oats. You have to remain cognizant and add the oats during the narrow window between the butter browning and the butter burning. Watch for the change in colour of the butter to light yellow to a deep golden/amber hue. You will also start to smell a nutty aroma and the butter will start to foam like crazy.
Yes, I have burned butter many times. Not to worry: just clean the saucepan and start over.
Finally, stirring in extra butter at the end is absolutely key to a scrumptiously creamy and rich oatmeal. Don’t be too afraid of butter.
Full Recipe: Spiced Apple Oatmeal with Browned Butter
2 regular servings or 1 giant serving
1 apple, diced
5 dried figs, diced
2 large medjool dates, pitted and diced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
freshly ground nutmeg (approx. 1/4 teaspoon)
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup and 2 tablespoons water
Heaping spoonful Greek yogurt mixed with small drizzle of honey
- Heat a small saucepan on medium. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Brown the butter to a golden brown colour, stirring constantly with a spatula and being careful not to burn.
- Once butter is golden brown and starts to foam, add the oats and the spices and keep stirring to toast. When the OATS are golden brown, add the chopped apple, figs, and dates. Keep stirring.
- You should be smelling the oats and spices toasting (yessss). Add the milk, water, and 2 pinches of salt. Turn heat up to maximum and bring to a boil while stirring frequently. As soon as it begins to boil, reduce heat to the lowest setting. Continue stirring frequently, scraping off any bits that are beginning to stick to the bottom.
- The oats are done when the liquids have been absorbed by the oats into a smooth-ish texture. Finish by stirring in a 1/2 tablespoon of butter for extra richness. Option to top with honeyed Greek yogurt and additional shavings of fresh nutmeg.