Baked Polenta with Garlicky Mushrooms and Delicata Squash

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Welcome to another Food Matters Monday!  This dish is a spin on Mark Bittman’s Polenta with Garlicky Mushrooms.  The recipe this week was chosen by Sandra at Meadows Cooks.  She made her polenta cakes in the shape of hearts–adorable!  I made mine without any wine (subbed Sherry Vinegar) and added some roasted delicata squash for a heartier dish.  I also made this dish a second time, adding heavy whipping cream and a little cream cheese to the mushrooms.  And while it wasn’t nearly as healthy, boy was it good!

Polenta is such a versatile food–if you haven’t made it before, I highly recommending giving it a try.  It tastes good topped with any number of foods.  You can do a cream sauce, a marinara with cheese and veggies or meat, a nice eggplant sauce, a chickpea curry, pesto…the possibilities go on and on!  Polenta is basically just cornmeal cooked up, pressed into a pan and chilled, and then cut into shapes and pan-fried or baked.  Let me know if you end up making this dish or a variation–I would love to hear from you!

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Polenta Cakes with Garlicky Mushrooms and Delicata Squash;

Makes: 4 to 8 servings;  Time: 3 hours, mostly unattended

  • 1 cup coarse cornmeal
  • Salt
  • ½ cup 2% milk (or use water)
  • Black Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 pound mushrooms, preferably an assortment, sliced (I used baby bella mushrooms this time)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 cup Sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or more to taste
  • 1 delicata squash, seeded and sliced
  1. Put the cornmeal and a large pinch of salt in a medium saucepan; slowly whisk in 2 and ½ cups water and the milk to make a lump-free slurry. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring almost to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and bubble gently, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water; you want the consistency to be like thick oatmeal. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary and plenty of black pepper.
  2. Grease a large baking sheet with some of the oil while the polenta is still hot, pour it onto the sheet and use a spatula to spread it out evenly at least ½ inch thick. Brush the top lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the polenta until it sets up, about 2 hours (or up to a day).
  3. Heat the oven to 400°F.  Lightly spray or drizzle a baking pan with olive oil and lay squash onto the baking sheet, taking care not to overlap. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and roast, about 20-30 minutes, flipping each piece halfway through.
  4. Lower the heat in the oven to 375°F. Grease a clean large baking sheet with some of the oil. When the polenta is set, cut it into at least 12 squares or diamonds or use a round cookie cutter to make disks. Put the cakes on the baking sheet, brush with a bit more oil, and bake until they are warmed through and the edges begin to brown (the outside should be nice and toasted while the inside should stay soft), 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, put the 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the mushrooms and thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and dried out a bit, about 10 minutes. Add the Sherry Vinegar and let it bubble away for a couple of minutes; turn the heat to medium-low and add the garlic.  Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve a spoonful of mushrooms and a few pieces of squash on top of each polenta cake.  I served mine on a bed of mizuna–love mizuna!

Sesame Soba Noodles with Spinach and Baked Hoisin Tofu

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Welcome to another Food Matters Monday!  This week’s recipe was Sesame Noodles with Spinach and Salmon, chosen by Sara from Pidges Pantry.  Check out everyone’s variations on the dish here.  So far I’ve seen posts starting with this simple noodle dish and changing things up with crab, sea bass, kale, green beans, lamb, ahi, and fried tofu.  Wow!

Whatever variation you choose, this noodle dish is a perfect weeknight supper or quick lunch.  Add more spinach than noodles and you have a perfectly satisfying and very healthy dish.  The sweet soy-garlic-ginger sauce will be a hit with any diner at your table.

My version uses baked hoisin-glazed tofu and adds ginger and agave nectar.  I love the chewy texture of baked tofu and I wanted to make some for a friend of mine who is not eating meat this month to show her how satisfying baked tofu could be.  This was the perfect opportunity!  I promised to take photos to illustrate the process so here goes…!

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First, I press the tofu for a while to get some of the liquid out.  This is an especially important step when you are frying tofu but I do it for baked tofu anyway to speed up the baking time.  To press tofu, wrap the tofu in a clean towel (I use flour sack towels but any clean towel or paper towel will do) and place a small plate on top for 1/2 hour or longer to press.  Make sure the plate isn’t too heavy or else it can smush and crack the tofu.

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Once the tofu is pressed, unwrap and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Place on an oiled baking sheet and brush with a marinade or hoisin sauce.

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Bake at 300 degrees for 1/2 hour.  The result is toothy and satisfying:  smooth on the inside and crispy on the outside with a dense texture.  It is my favorite way to eat tofu!

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The noodle dish is so simple.  Just cook the noodles while quickly sauteing the garlic, ginger, and spinach in a wok.  Add the noodles, toss in soy sauce and agave, top with the tofu and you have a meal to the table in 1/2 hour.

As I always like to remind you, feel free to change things up if you would like!  This dish would also taste good with cabbage, green beans, zucchini, snap peas, or snow peas.  I added a few cubes of sweet potato to one of my plates of noodles.  Enjoy!

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Sesame Soba Noodles with Spinach and Baked Hoisin Tofu

Makes 4 servings; Time: 30 minutes

  • 1 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
  • 8 ounces firm block tofu
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 and ½ pounds spinach, trimmed and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar (or sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 8 ounces buckwheat (soba) noodles
  1. Drain the tofu and wrap it in a clean towel.  Place a small plate on it and let sit for a half hour to extract some of the liquid.
  2. Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Lightly oil a baking pan.
  3. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch slices. and place on baking pan.  Brush with hoisin sauce on both sides and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet on medium. Add the garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic begins to soften and the sesame seeds turn golden, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, for another minute or 2. Add the soy sauce, agave, sesame oil, and a splash of water and cook until the spinach is wilted, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  6. Cook the noodles in the boiling water until they’re tender but not mushy (start tasting after 5 minutes), then drain, reserving some of the cooking water. Turn the heat under the spinach mixture to medium and add the noodles. Toss, adding enough reserved liquid to keep things moist. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately or at room temperature with tofu laid on top and some sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

Sweet and Sticky Green Bean Stir Fry With Everidae Sauce

Sweet and Sticky Green Bean Stir Fry

I work from home.  For those of you who work from home you might understand that this means I work from home A LOT.  At all hours.  And it can be taxing.  (If you work from home and don’t work A LOT I want to know your secret!)  But…there are also some perks.  For instance, I get to eat a homecooked lunch every single day.  And what could be better than that?  Most of the time my lunches are super-quick veggie and grain concoctions, eaten in front of the computer while I sift through emails.  But sometimes, I like to treat myself and step outside of my zucchini-onion-soy-fish sauce routine.  This dish is super-quick.  It’s just a simple veggie dish.  But it feels special, like I’m at a nice asian restaurant for lunch.  This dish deserves my attention.  It deserves for the computer to be silenced, deserves a linen napkin, and deserves to be enjoyed slowly with chopsticks.  I prefer this served with a cup of miso soup but it certainly doesn’t need anything on the side.  I also like to serve my green bean stir fry on top of my special grain blend.

My rice blen

To make my grain blend, put 1 cup brown rice in a dutch oven and cover with water by 1 inch.  Cover and bring to a boil then turn heat to low and let simmer for 25 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup farro, 1/2 cup millet, 1/2 cup black and/or white quinoa, and 1/4 cup radish seeds (you can use any of these, some of these, or just make the brown rice plain–whatever works for you!).  Add more water if needed so the water level is about 1/2 inch above the grains after adding all grains.  Cook another 15-20 minutes covered on low heat.  Turn off and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing.  The radish seeds are my favorite part.  they pop in your mouth and are so fun to eat!  This makes quite a bit of grain blend so once it is completely cooled I spoon the leftovers into quart-sized freezer bags, flatten, and freeze for future lunches or dinners.  Makes things so much easier when I’m wondering what to make for a meal and don’t want to spend 45 minutes cooking rice!

I decided to add carrots to my stir fry today.  Other days I do mushrooms.  Other days just green beans and onions (always onions–love onions!).  My little dog loves eating carrots for a snack so she loves it when I make this dish because she nibbles on the raw carrot ends.  Today I shaved the carrots.  Other times I julienne or simply slice thinly into rounds or on the bias.  I think you are getting my drift.  Whatever floats your boat with these stir fries!

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One thing I always do is shock the green beans.  You want them to stay pretty and bright green in the stir fry.  The best way to do this is to plunge them in cold water after blanching them.  These are my green beans after shocking:

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One more thing.  I’ve been using a sauce lately called Everidae Sauce.  You don’t need it for this recipe–this recipe is great with just some soy sauce, honey, and crushed red pepper.  But if you want to try something really tasty, you can get it on Amazon if you aren’t local to Grand Rapids.  It’s produced by Grand Rapids own Dominic Sorenson at an incubator kitchen called Uptown Kitchen.  This sauce makes so many things tastier!  Just a tablespoon or two added to my plain ol’ veggie and rice routine really takes the dish somewhere.  I love habanero and love spicy but even if you don’t, there is a mild version of the sauce to flavor a dish without adding too much heat.  From the Scoville Farms Everidae Sauce Website:  “Dominic created the sauce to fill the need for a more versatile Habanero sauce, less spicy than traditional sauces with a flavor that wouldn’t overwhelm the subtle flavors of his favorite dishes. Dominic puts his extensive food industry experience to work when personally making each batch. Working in small batches, he prepares each ingredient by hand, cooks, cans and labels each jar of sauce before hand delivering to local specialty stores and markets.  Each of the three versions of Everidae Sauce (Mild, Medium, Hot) are made with fresh Carrots, Sweet Onions, All Natural Garlic, Whole Orange Habaneros, Cider Vinegar, White Sugar, Salt and Natural Fruit Pectin.”  Yum!

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Okay, without further ado, the recipe!

Sweet and Sticky Soy-Garlic-Honey Stir Fry With Everidae Sauce

  • Salt
  • 1 pound green beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 carrots, shaved into ribbons
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Scoville Farms Everidae Sauce (optional)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Add the green beans and cook about 2 minutes.  Don’t overcook or they will become soft and won’t maintain their vibrant color.  Submerge the green beans in a bowl of ice water to stop them from continuing to cook.
  2. Put olive oil in a large, heavy skillet or wok.  Cook the onions over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Toss the green beans and carrot ribbons into the pan and turn it up to high.  Let brown, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce, honey, and Scoville Everidae sauce and toss to combine with the vegetables.  Cook for another minute until the sauce thickens and gets a little sticky.
  5. Serve on brown rice or a blend of grains.

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“Hippie Rice” With Beet Greens, Currants, and Seeds

Hippie Rice:  With Beet Greens, Currants, Sunflower Seeds, and Orange Zest

Welcome to my first post of 2013!  It’s been a busy, busy (yet wonderful) few weeks but as much as I hate to admit it I’m kind of happy to be getting back into my old routines.  I am even somewhat relieved that the holidays have passed and I can look forward to catching up on my “honey do list” including actually organizing my office closet, sewing the linen pillow covers that have been cut and ready for the machine for months, organizing the photo folders on my computer, and other riveting grown-up extra-curriculars (when I feel as good now when my house is clean as I did when I was a kid and I got an elephant ear at the fair, I wonder if I grew up and somehow found myself in some twisted opposite-world).

This post is also the first Food Matters Project post for 2013.  This week, Gracie chose the recipe, “Hippie Rice,” and how fitting it is considering all of the “diets” I’m sure we are thinking about or actually following through on.  It is a good reminder from Bittman that “we are what we eat” and that feeling better (emotionally and physically) and looking better starts with eating better.

My goal this year is to eat mindfully.  I do a good job of eating well:  eating whole foods and following a mostly plant based diet.  But I have my hangups with some junk foods and tend to overeat, especially when I am not being mindful about my eating.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a bag of pistachios or popcorn in the car and when I got home realized that half the bag was gone and my car was a mess (followed soon thereafter by a declaration that “there will be no more popcorn/pistachios/other messy snacky foods eaten in this car from this point to as long as we both shall live and into eternity!”).  I can get carried away when I’m distracted.  So my goal is to eat mindfully, to take my time, to try (I said try, okay?) not to eat in front of my computer, to savor each bite and taste the flavors, to eat more deliberately.

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Let’s start with this dish.  I used Bittman’s recipe as the starting off point (see Gracie’s blog for the full recipe) but diverged quite a bit based on what I had on hand and what I was in the mood for.  My version has interesting flavors, textures, and colors…a perfect dish to enjoy mindfully.  Beet greens add color and powerful health benefits.  Currants add a hint of sweetness flavor without overpowering.  Sunflower and pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds) add crunch and depth.  A little bit of heat comes in from the crushed red pepper.  And orange zest adds a bright pop to finish it off.

This recipe can be modified in any-which-way-you-choose.  So don’t get hung up on the exacts.  I used my standard grain blend, a mix of brown rice, quinoa, farro, and radish seed, which I had cooked ahead of time and frozen, making this recipe very quick and easy!

My rice blen

Next, I lightly steamed shredded beet greens.  The next time you buy a bunch of beets with the greens still attached, don’t throw them away!  They cook up much like swiss chard but I like the flavor even better.  Beet greens are also an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin A, making this a vision-boosting, cancer-fighting superfood.

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Next I sauteed some onion in a little olive oil, adding the seeds to toast for the last five minutes.  I squeezed the juice of an orange into the pan and added about 1 tsp of zest.

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Then I tossed all of the other ingredients into the pan (grain blend, beet greens, currants, red pepper flakes, salt), sprinkled it with a little patchoulie (just kidding), and voila, a bowl of righteous grains and veggies was born.

“Hippie Rice” with Beet Greens, Currants, Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds, and Orange Zest; makes 4 servings; takes 45 minutes (with pre-cooked grains will take 20 minutes)

  • 1 bunch beet greens, shredded
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sunflower and/or raw pumpkin seeds (or a blend)
  • 2 cups grain blend (anything you want but I make brown rice, farro, quinoa, and radish seeds in a pot ahead of time and freeze in quart-sized plastic bags)
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1/2 tsp red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • juice of 1 small orange
  1. Put beet greens in a saucepan with 1/2 inch of water on the bottom.  Bring to a boil then simmer, steaming lightly for about 5 minutes.
  2. Put the onion in a heavy skillet and saute until lightly browned.  Add sunflower and pumpkin seeds and saute until they are lightly toasted.
  3. Add beet greens, grain blend, currants, red chile flakes, orange zest and orange juice to the pan and stir to heat through.  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Soup Sampler: French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup, Split Pea Soup, and Minestrone

It is 25 degrees out and snow is softly falling.  Christmas is over and New Year’s is just around the corner.  My fresh fraser fir is still up and decorated and Christmas music has given way to George Winston’s December and some great banjo tunes.  I’m thinking warm and cozy thoughts snuggled on the couch under an antique wool afghan.  Really no better time to share with you a sampler of the soups I made recently.

One day a few weeks ago, I decided my life needed some serious soup therapy.  There’s nothing I want more in cold Michigan weather than a hot bowl of soup and some crusty bread to dunk in it.  That day I set to it, chopping up mounds of carrots, celery, potato, onion, and garlic and creating three hearty vegetarian soups.  Oh, what a day!  With steam coming off of three big soup pots on my stove, the warmth in my kitchen and in my heart was tangible.

The great thing about making big pots of soup all at once (and getting the labor out of the way) is that you can freeze and enjoy the soups long after they are made.  Once the soups had cooled, I ladled some of each into quart-sized freezer bags and laid them flat in the freezer.  I’m looking forward to grabbing my choice of three soups to thaw and heat on a cold winter day in January or February.

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French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups finely diced onion
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups French lentils (sort through for debris/rocks and rinse)
  • 1 cup of dried wild mushrooms with reconstituting water/mushroom stock
  • 1/2 cup of kale or collard greens, thinly sliced, optional
  • 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned), optional
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Minced parsley for serving
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until it browns slightly and softens somewhat, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste to the onion and stir to coat.  Add the garlic, celery, carrot, and parsley and cook for a few minutes.  Add the lentils, 1-2 cups of mushroom stock, 1 and 1/2 quarts of water, mushrooms and 1 and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil then turn heat down to simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in the collard greens and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mustard and vinegar.  Taste and add more if you prefer.  Garnish with parsley and serve with a salad and crusty bread.
  4. Serve 4 to 6.

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Split Pea Soup

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 3 cups dry split peas
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Saute on medium heat until vegetables are somewhat softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Lower heat slightly so vegetables do not continue to brown and cook for another 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. Place split peas, water, salt, and dry mustard in a Dutch oven if you have one.  Otherwise a stock pot works fine.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer with a lid to partially cover for about 40 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Simmer gently for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables and peas are soft.  If soup is too thick, thin with some water or vegetable stock.
  4. Add pepper and vinegar to taste.  Serve with a good crusty rye bread.
  5. Serves 6-8

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Minestrone

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 stalks of celery, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini or summer squash (1 inch diameter), diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups water
  • 20-30 oz of canned tomato puree or strained tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, white beans, or garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup dry pasta (I use mini shells or ditalini but any small pasta will do)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Add onion, garlic, and salt.  Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add celery, carrot, oregano, and basil.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  2. Add bell pepper, zucchini, water, tomato puree, and beans.  Cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add pasta.  Cook pasta according to instructions on the box.  Drain and set aside.
  4. Test the soup to see if the vegetables are tender.  Add pasta, stir, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan cheese on top and with a crusty sourdough or baguette.
  5. Serves 6-8
  6. NOTE:  If you are freezing some of your minestrone, do not add the pasta before freezing or it will come out all mushy.  Freeze the minestrone and when you are ready to thaw and enjoy it, cook up some pasta to add to the minestone–much better!

Aura’s Christmas Cookies

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Merry Christmas!  Okay, I’m a little late with this post but for those of you who are already thinking of what cookies you will make for next year’s treats, here is a basic sugar cookie and icing recipe.  I grew up decorating sugar cookies with my mom who spent hours perfecting her cookies.  Being the traditionalist that I am, I decorate my cookies close to exactly like my dear mom (though not quite as well) and look forward to many more years of trying to perfect the art of the sugar cookie.  I’ve added to my mom’s repertoire–the Michigan cookies are a big hit around these parts!

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I use a basic sugar cookie recipe and basic icing recipe from Martha Stewart for mine.  Note that these turn out quite crispy so if soft and chewy cookies are your thing, you won’t get that with these.  But if you are looking for a thin, crispy, buttery and sweet cookie–look no further!

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Sugar Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Icing (see recipe below)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt.  With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined.  Divide dough in half; flatten into disks.  Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment.  Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes.  Roll out 1/8 thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed.  Cut shapes with cookie cutters.  Between each cutting, dip the cookie cutter in flour to prevent sticking.  Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets.  If dough gets soft, re-chill for ten minutes or so.  Reroll scraps; cut shapes until the dough is gone.
  3. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, anywhere from 10-15 minutes depending on the size.  Cool fully on wire racks before icing.

Basic Icing Recipe

  • 1 and 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or water
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. Place sugar into a bowl and whisk the liquids into the sugar until smooth but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  If too thin, just add more sugar.  If too thick, just add more liquid.  Easy!  I place small amounts of icing into several bowls and use gel food coloring to make multiple colors and shades of each color.  Ice the cookies and let icing harden at least 20 minutes.  I let them sit overnight to harden fully so they hold up in boxes of treats.

Vegan Baked Oatmeal with Apricots, Walnuts, and Blueberries

I hope this day after Christmas finds everyone well.  For me, this cold and peaceful winter morning involved staying in bed late, drinking tea, and best of all, enjoying baked oatmeal.

Baked Oatmeal with Walnuts, Apricots, and Blueberries

I am a bona fide oatmeal lover.  I never ever thought I would be such a goody-two-shoes that I would eat oatmeal every morning.  But somehow this routine has a solid foothold now.  I have rolled oats, steel-cut oats, quick-cooking steel-cut oats, quick oats and oat bran on hand at all times.  When I travel for work, I have BetterOats packets on hand for snacking and mornings in the hotel.  So when I came across baked oatmeal after hearing people rave about it, I had to try it.  I had noticed a recipe in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday and went at it.

We have been trying our hand at baked oatmeal recipes over the last week and I can’t get enough of it.  Next week I’m throwing a brunch for my lovely former roommate and her out-of-town guests the day after her wedding.  Being that some guests are vegan, I tried my hand at making a vegan version of baked oatmeal, launching off from Heidi Swanson’s baked oatmeal recipe from Super Natural Every Day.  Her version includes eggs, butter, and milk (and her version is delicious, I can attest) but with a few tweaks, everyone can enjoy the miracle of baked oatmeal.  I replace the milk with non-dairy almond milk (you can use soy if you prefer but I prefer the lighter taste of almond milk), the butter is replaced with oil, and the egg is replaced with a half of a mashed banana.  If you like oatmeal you will love this version, which is like a mildly sweet dessert for breakfast.  Without the guilt.  And having tried a dairy version and my vegan version, I can honestly say I liked the vegan version even better.

Baked Oatmeal in Dish

Vegan Baked Oatmeal with Apricots and Blueberries; adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday

Serves 6 for Breakfast

  • 2 cups of rolled oats (use ‘old fashioned’ oats, not ‘quick’ oats)
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar or maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups almond milk, soy milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp canola or coconut oil (melted if hard)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into thin strips
  • Raspberries, to serve (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° with a rack in the top third of the oven.  Oil the inside of an 8 inch square baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, the sugar, if using, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, if using, the non-dairy milk, 1/2 mashed banana, the oil, and the vanilla.
  4. Arrange the banana slices in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top.  Cover the fruit with the oat mixture.  Slowly drizzle the non-dairy 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.  Scatter the remaining berries and remaining walnuts across the top.
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set.  Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.   Cut into squares and serve in bowls.  Drizzle with maple syrup and pool some almond or soy milk on the bottom.  Serve with a few raspberries if you have ‘em.