It is safe to say that oats are among the favorite grain choices here in North America. They are an absolute staple in our house, reinventing themselves through granola, muffins, scones, summer fruit crisps, and much more. Easy to source, affordable and nutritious, oats of every variety should be stocked in your pantry!
Oats don’t have their germ and bran removed during processing, and so they bring you the nutritious rewards of the whole grain to be enjoyed a myriad of ways. A source of both protein and carbohydrates, oats offer a reliable source of energy, making them an ideal choice for breakfast.
I was raised on porridge and now my boys and I enjoy it every weekday morning. I’ve even been known to pack a baggie of quick oats with me when I travel! At home, a turntable on our dining room table holds glass jars, each housing an assortment of oatmeal toppings: toasted almonds, golden raisins, wheat germ, organic honey, golden flax seed, and dried cranberries.
The garnish may vary, but hot oatmeal in the morning is our constant, and we wouldn’t change for all the Kellogg’s in the world.
Let’s take a quick look at the types of oatmeal and a few extra special recipes featuring it…
Know Your Oats
After the husk has been removed from an oat it is called a groat. What happens to that whole grain afterward depends on the type of oatmeal cereal…
Quick Cooking and Instant
Quick oats are the best choice when your toddler is banging his spoon on the table demanding breakfast. They cook up in just a few minutes and contain just as many nutrients and goodness as rolled or steel-cut oats.
They are groats that have been first steamed, then cut into a few pieces and crushed into very thin flakes. The rapid cooking time make them our breakfast of choice most mornings and I’ve been known to fold a handful of them into the occasional batch of cookies for added nutrition.
Quick oats are not to be confused with ‘instant’, which often contain additives and sweetener. Instant oatmeal has been pre-cooked, then dried and flaked. There’s nothing appealing about that! While its convenience is second only to cold cereal, the pasty taste of instant oatmeal makes it a hard sell for this oatmeal lover.
Rolled or ‘Old-Fashioned’
Rolled oats are groats that have been steamed to soften them and then compressed between two rollers to make them thinner. Various manufactures will roll oats to different thicknesses, which is why you will see ‘Regular’ rolled oats (typically with Quaker, etc) and ‘Thick’ rolled oats.
These oats cook up in about ten minutes and offer more texture and fuller flavor than the quick cooking variety.
Reach for the canister of rolled oats for most baking projects requiring oatmeal and homemade granola. All summer long I toss together rolled oats, flour, sugar and butter and we enjoy it as a topping over baked fresh fruit crisps.
Steel-Cut or ‘Pinhead’
These whole groats were sliced crosswise into a few pieces during post-processing and are a favorite among oat aficionados for their chewy – as opposed to mushy – texture and full flavor.
Steel-cut oats are also sometimes called Scotch (or Irish) oats and take the most time to cook by a long shot –up to 40 minutes.
Steel-Cut oat lovers are passionate about their grain, and once you’ve tried them, it’s not easy to go back to instant oats, save for the convenience.
Brown Butter-Toasted Oatmeal with Roasted Pears
This personal favorite recipe could almost be mistaken for dessert. But, no, the satisfying breakfast is as healthy as it is delicious!
Steel-cut oats are toasted in browned butter, bringing out their nutty flavor, and cooked for nearly 30 minutes to ensure they are creamy. A simple topping of pears roasted with vanilla and sweetened with agave nectar rounds out this special dish, and pistachios add a satisfying crunch.
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup steel-cut oats
- 4 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
for pear topping
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 organic pear, washed, cored and cut into 16 slices
- 2 Tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- pinch of salt
- 2 Tablespoons pistachios (or nut of your choice)
- Get the oatmeal started by heating the 2 tablespoons butter in a 3-quart heavy sauce pan over moderate heat. Allow it to foam, and turn slightly golden in color. Add oats and stir for about 4 minutes to gently toast the oats.
- Carefully add in boiling water (it will send up a cloud of steam!) and salt, and boil hard for ten minutes. Stir occasionally. Oats will thicken slightly.
- Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare your topping by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan or cast iron skillet. Add pears and cook gently for a few minutes. Sprinkle vanilla powder over them and a pinch of salt. Drizzle with agave nectar.
- Simmer, turning the fruit once or twice, until pears are quite soft. Stir in pistachios.
- Divide oatmeal into bowls and top with spiced fruit & nuts. Drizzle agave syrup over everything and serve hot with cream or milk.
Scottish Oat Scones
The Scots are well known for their hearty breakfasts – sausages, beans, eggs, porridge – and these traditional oatmeal scones ensure no one gets up from the table hungry. Sturdy, flavorful, and utterly satisfying, they are best enjoyed warm from the oven with a cup of tea.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 Tablespoons organic cane sugar (plus more for topping)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/3 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix together flour, oats, cane sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and make a well in the center.
- In a small bowl, beat egg well, then add in milk and melted butter.
- Pour egg mixture into the dry ingredients and gently stir together with a fork. Do not over mix.
- Divide dough in half and pan into two 7-inch circles on parchment paper. They should be nearly 1 inch thick.
- Score an X in the top on the scones. Brush tops lightly with milk and sprinkle with cane sugar, if desired.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven, cut into wedges and serve warm.
More Oatmeal Links
- Overnight Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
- Chocolate-Glazed Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cookies :: Under the High Chair
- Fluffy Banana Oat Pancakes
- Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oats
- Oat Topping for Fresh Fruit Crisps
- Simple Bircher Meusli :: eatwell.eatgreen
- One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins
- My perfect oatmeal :: Umami Girl
- Giant Oatmeal Cookies
What is your favorite way to enjoy oats?