June 12, 2017

Rhubarb Crisp Oatmeal (Baked Oatmeal with Rhubarb)

Vegan Baked Oatmeal with Rhubarb

Things that have happened since I last posted a year and a half ago:

  1. I reconnected with the love of my life and we started dating long-distance.
  2. We decided to move back to our home state of Michigan, which meant cross-country relocations for both of us (me from NYC and him from Portland).
  3. We got engaged over breakfast pie.

And a million other life-altering things, many of which I'm still in the process of sorting out. But before we get to all that, let's talk more about the wonder that is breakfast pie.

Fruit-based desserts seem to straddle the line between healthful and indulgent. My theory is that the fiber-rich, antioxidant-packed fruit acts like an Instagram filter, lending a nutritious haze to the accompanying sugar and fat. This explains why there are times that a slice of pie seems like a perfectly appropriate breakfast treat. After all, is it really any worse than a giant blueberry muffin? I think not.

In case it's not yet clear, I'm a fan of breakfast pie. So much so, in fact, that I decided the best way to kick off my 33rd birthday was with a slice of freshly-baked pie from Sister Pie, the acclaimed bakery in Detroit. Because what's better than breakfast pie? Birthday breakfast pie. What's even better than that? Engagement birthday breakfast pie. My amazing, knows-me-the-best fiance planned the sweetest surprise proposal including all of my favorite things - carbs, cookbooks, and vintage jewelry. He hid the ring in a hollowed-out cookbook, you guys. And gave it to me while I ate pie for breakfast. On my birthday. I still smile spontaneously every time I think about it, and it's been almost three months. I don't think I'll ever stop. While I'd love to re-live the moment each day by eating pie for breakfast, I can't give in to that level of indulgence. I can, however, translate that indulgence into an actually-healthy breakfast. I present you with Rhubarb Crisp Oatmeal.

Ok, so technically this is just baked oatmeal. BUT! It's baked oatmeal with the deliciousness of fruit pies/crisps rolled in. Gooey, sweet fruit filling? Of course. Crisp, butter-infused top? You betcha. Since it's still rhubarb season here in Michigan, rhubarb was an obvious choice. Especially since I work on a farm where we've been harvesting it twice a week for the last month. I love the silky texture of cooked rhubarb, and its natural tartness keeps the baked oatmeal lively. Brown sugar tames rhubarb's puckery quality and gives the oatmeal a dessert-adjacent hint of sweetness. The oatmeal itself turns into both filling and crust, with a custardy center and toasted, golden top.  It's perfect on its own, but I love it topped with a dollop of whipped cream. The same way I eat a slice of pie.

Rhubarb Crisp Oatmeal
Adapted from Heidi Swanson's Baked Oatmeal
Serves 6-8

1 pound rhubarb, chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar (lightly packed), divided
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/4 cups nondairy milk
1 tablespoon flax meal
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon nondairy butter or coconut oil, cut into bits
2 tablespoons roasted almonds, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 and grease an 8x11 baking dish with nonstick spray (An 8x8 should also work, but I prefer the higher crust ratio of the larger dish). Add the rhubarb to the baking dish and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, tossing to coat evenly. Remove about 1/4 cup of the rhubarb mixture and set aside (you'll want a bit of fruit on top of the oatmeal as well). In a bowl, stir together the oats, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. In a second bowl, whisk together the milk, remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar, flax meal, and vanilla until sugar begins to dissolve, about 1 minute (alternatively you can blitz the mixture in a blender). Once the oven is heated, assemble the oatmeal. Cover the rhubarb with an even layer of the oat mixture, then drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Scatter the reserved rhubarb and chopped almonds over the top of the oatmeal, followed by the nondairy butter or coconut oil. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the oatmeal has set and the top is deeply golden. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing into portions. Serve warm, topped with a dollop of whipped cream if you like (I certainly do).

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