Here’s one of my all-time favorite breakfasts: Apricot-Ginger Steel-Cut Oats. It’s easy, it’s do-ahead, it’s adaptable, and it’s delicious. We all have great intentions for eating a good breakfast everyday–or at least eating breakfast–and with this recipe you can. It’s a basic soaked/cooked steel-cut oat, into which a yummy combo of dried fruits have been added. The flavor is mellow, texture toothsome, and the kick of ginger is super. Serve it with a little milk, toasty nuts, fresh fruit, and you’re set. And with all the lovely dried fruits, no additional sweetener is needed. Hurray!
The recipe uses steel-cut oats, which normally require a long cook time, but here you’ll let an overnight soaking do the work so they cook up in a snap. It’s even healthy–oats, flax and milk give you protein to keep going, soaking makes the nutrients in the grain more available to your body, and it won’t load you up on refined sugars.
I prepare enough for several days, so I don’t have to think about what’s for breakfast when I am in a rush to get out of the house on time. One cup of oats makes 6-8 servings, so if you are preparing for a crowd, plan accordingly and you can have breakfast in a snap for a day or a week.
Prepare steps 1 and 2 and store in the fridge until you need it. I usually make enough for a week. Finish step 3 is when you’re ready to eat: slice a portion of the prepared oats, heat (or not), garnish, and enjoy! In the summer I eat it cold with almond milk, nuts and fruit, but in the wintertime, it’s nice to heat it up a bit, either on the stove with (add a touch of water) or in the microwave. With the touch of a few buttons, you’ll leave the instant-oatmeal crowd in the dust.
Apricot-Ginger Steel-Cut Oats
Step 1: Soaking
1 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup warm water
2 T live-culture yogurt, buttermilk, or other cultured milk product
Combine all in a container twice as big as needed (you’ll use it again later for the cooked oats). Cover and let soak overnight, or up to 24 hours.
Step 2: Cooking
1 1/8 cup water
1/2 t kosher or sea salt
soaked oats from step 1
2T ground flaxseed
3oz (about 2/3c) chopped dried apricots
.75 oz (about 1.5T) chopped candied ginger (I like the “uncrystallized” kind that isn’t coated in sugar; usually available at Trader Joe’s)
1.5oz (about 1/2 c) chopped dates
3 whole cardamom pods
Bring water, cardamom and salt to a simmer, and allow cardamom to infuse water for about 5 minutes, without reducing water to less than 1 cup. Add soaked oats to 1 c of the hot, infused water, and stir to combine. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for several minutes until oats are tender. Stir in flaxseed, chopped fruits and ginger. The mixture should be thick; raise heat if necessary and/or continue cooking if necessary to thicken. Spoon back into your soaking container, cover, and refrigerate until needed.
Step 3: Serving
Toasted nuts for garnish
Milk of choice
Remove the cooled oats from the refrigerator. Oats will be thick; slice into servings.
For a serving, remove one slice of oats from container, and place in your serving dish. Microwave until just warm, then add about 1/4 c milk, top with nuts and fresh fruit, if desired. For stovetop, place a slice of oats in a saucepan, add about 1/8c water and combine with oats. Heat on low, transfer to serving dish and garnish as above.
You can customize the recipe by changing out the dried fruits to others of your liking. Gauge your dried fruit additions by their sweetness; some are sweeter (dates, figs, prunes) than others (apricots, blueberries, cherries,cranberries), and I recommend a combination of the two. Toss in a little sparkle of flavor, like ginger or citrus peel (candied or not), and play around with infusing the cooking water with other herbs and spices. Try dried figs and hazelnuts with orange zest in a bay infused water. Or try a combo of chopped dates, lemon peel and walnuts. See my January 2015 post for a recipe for candied citrus peel. I’m going to experiment with candying my own gingerroot. I’d love to hear about your successful innovations.