Nubby steel-cut oats spiked with cinnamon, drizzled with maple syrup, and topped with fruit and nuts of your choice. Morning perfection in a bowl.
This recipe was originally created for our Series of Unfortunate Recipes, based on the book and Netflix series by Lemony Snicket.
1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats (not quick cooking)
2 short cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches each)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
For serving: milk (dairy or non-dairy); fruit such as bananas, blueberries, raisins or dried cranberries; chopped walnuts or other nuts of your choice
1. Combine 6 cups of water and cinnamon sticks in a medium pot and bring to a boil with the lid on. When the pot begins to boil, turn the heat to medium-low with the lid still on and allow the cinnamon sticks to simmer in the water for 2-5 minutes or longer, depending on how strong you want the cinnamon taste to be.
2. Remove the cinnamon sticks (see note about reusing them), turn the heat to high and stir in the oats and salt. Boil with the lid off over high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for another 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until much but not all of the water has been absorbed/evaporated. Turn off heat and stir in maple syrup. Note that the oatmeal will continue to thicken as it sits and cools.
4. You can either stir milk (dairy or non-dairy) into the oatmeal in the pot, or offer it at the table for people to stir in to their bowls individually (a good option if eaters prefer different milk choices). Serve with chopped nuts and/or fruit.
Feel free to add the fruit to the pot if you prefer. Everyone at my house seems to prefer a different fruit option, so I offer whatever's on hand at the table and let them serve themselves.
I like chopped walnuts with this, since the slight bitterness of the walnut skins is a nice counterpoint to the sweet maple flavor, but my husband prefers milder almonds. Pecans are another nice choice.
You can reuse the cinnamon sticks! I let them air-dry, then stick them in my fridge to use again for the next batch of oatmeal. Each time you reuse them they'll be a little less potent, so you can keep them in the pot a little longer each time to make up for this. I usually re-use them twice before tossing them (so use them three times total), and in the last batch, I keep them in the pot throughout the oatmeal cooking time.
Weekday breakfast - I find it very easy to slip this into the weekday morning routine, despite the fact that it's actual cooking. I find I can make the coffee and unload the dishwasher in the time it takes to make this, so it doesn't really add any extra time to our morning.
Make ahead - To make things even easier on weekday mornings, you can make a large batch ahead and keep it in the fridge. To serve, just microwave individual bowl-fulls with a little milk or water to soften.
To make this gluten-free, choose oats that are labeled as such (some are made on equipment that also handles flour, so could cause a problem for people with strong sensitivity such as celiac).
Also check out this recipe for Coconut Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas.