I'm pretty sure I've talked about the fact that I don't really like oatmeal as a breakfast option. Granted, until recently, I'd only ever eaten the stuff that comes in the little brown packet, and that's undoubtedly my first mistake (of many). Although I'm sure it's not always the case, I can't help but associate oatmeal with a thick, gummy texture reminiscent of mucous, and that's anything but appetizing.
As it turns out, there's a large portion of the oatmeal world that I didn't know existed, or at least never considered. I owe my epiphany to a restaurant here in Charlotte that opened my eyes one lazy weekend morning. I ordered what they call porridge, and what was presented to me was a bowl of steel cut oats and quinoa thickened with coconut milk and topped with a layer of crunchy, brûléed brown sugar and a mound of perfectly diced apples.
Guess what: The simple adjustment of using steel-cut oats instead of instant oats automatically changed that bowl of semi-solid fiber into something that actually felt good in my mouth. The faint flavor of coconut helped immensely, and breaking through that barrier of brown sugar was fun and added a sweetness I always appreciate.
|This image made possible by my multi-talented |
I was tempted to go back to the restaurant the next day, but my better, more rational half pointed out that money still doesn't grow on trees. Instead, I decided to recreate the bowl of wholesomeness at home. After a few sad (but happily still edible) attempts, I think I've found a method that is accommodating and yields very satisfying results. Do be careful not to cook the grains too long, though--there's a thin line between tasty texture and mucousy mush.
Makes about 8 servings
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1-1/2 cups steel-cut oats
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed, plus more for topping
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced, optional but enjoyable!
In a mesh strainer, rinse the quinoa well.
In a large non-stick pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat until shimmering and add the oats, toasting until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour the water and coconut milk into a Dutch oven or a large heavy-bottomed pot.
Turn the heat to high and bring the liquids to a full boil, then pour in rinsed quinoa and toasted oats.
Stir and let the grains cook for 5 minutes.
After 1 minute, turn off the heat, add the brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon and stir to combine.
Cover the pot and leave out overnight.
In the morning uncover the mixture and turn the heat on to medium.
Stir occasionally until the oats are heated through. There will be a bit of water in the mixture still, but the oats will thicken up as they sit.
When finished, immediately turn off the heat and transfer to another dish or to breakfast bowls.
Top with more brown sugar and brûlée, if desired (and if you're high-functioning enough in the morning to operate a kitchen torch), and serve with the diced apples.
Store the leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge. Leftover oats will last all week!