Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

Baked Oatmeal

In another posted recipe for Hard-Cooked Eggs from Heidi Swanson I wrote that if you weren’t following Heidi at or, that you are—most likely, missing something in the kitchen. Well, the addendum to that is simply this: if your library of cookbooks doesn’t include her newest cookbook, super natural every day, then your library is incomplete.

Our daughter, Sarah, and her husband Travis gave me this cookbook for my most recent birthday. Along with that came the rhetorical question, “Does Dad really need another cookbook?” to which I responded (and always respond) “You can’t have too many cookbooks.”

I have a lot of cookbooks, indeed. But never, ever have I read through an entire cookbook from beginning to end—until Heidi’s volume arrived. Not only that, but perhaps the most telling indicator of how great a collection this is, is that while Heidi is a vegetarian, and I am not, and there isn’t one recipe in this cookbook that includes any meat at all, I never once noticed or even missed that.

This is a fabulous collection of recipes that are completely accessible. You know how lame it is when you want to try out a new recipe and it calls for a teaspoon and a half of some ingredient you can’t even pronounce and when you find it at the store it costs an arm and a leg for 7 times as much as you need? Not so with Heidi’s new book. As I read each recipe—one after the next, I thought, “Sure, I can do that, no problem.”

The recipe for Baked Oatmeal is fabulous and I’ve proved it two Saturdays’ in a row. The first time I prepared it I cut the recipe in half. Nancy Lee and I ate just about one-third of the 8×8 baking dish. When our son, Soren came into the kitchen he asked what it was. After explaining it to him, he ventured into it with a small bowl and some cream. Thirty minutes later the dish was empty and he was hoping I didn’t want any more because he “cleaned it up.”

The second time I prepared the recipe, I halved it again and adjusted several other things: along with the bananas on the bottom, I mixed in fresh blueberries and cut fresh strawberries. I also doubled the toasted walnuts as well as the vanilla. It’s difficult to halve an egg, so I just went with the whole egg. I didn’t drizzle any of the butter on top, nor did I add more sugar or syrup before serving. No problem.

No matter how you finish off this recipe, you’ll finish off the dish.

Here we go…

Baked Oatmeal (from Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar or maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Scant ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups huckleberries, blueberries, or mixed berries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter the inside of an 8-inch square baking dish.

In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, the sugar, if using, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, if using, the milk, egg, half of the butter, and the vanilla.

Arrange the bananas 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 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.

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. Drizzle the remaining melted butter on the top and serve. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar or drizzle with maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter.

Serves 6 generously, or 12 as part of a larger brunch spread.

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