Wake up taste buds with Moroccan-spiced oats

It may sound strange that my weekend breakfast treat is a bowl of oatmeal.

Sure, I like egg dishes as much as the next person. But after a week of usually too many wheat-based foods, some other whole grain is a welcome change. And this isn’t just any old bowl of oatmeal.

I exclusively use steel-cut oats, scooped from the bulk bin at Food 4 Less. The texture is far more toothsome than standard rolled oats, which to me always yield a texture like wallpaper paste. The downside of the steel-cut kind is that they take about 30 minutes to cook, hence my preference for making them on the weekend.

I always add some dried fruit, usually Zante currants or golden raisins and then a few nuts, preferably walnuts from my own tree or, in a pinch, almonds. Some flaxseed meal is a must, and a tablespoon of half-in-half keeps the mixture creamy and rich. There’s nothing worse than drowning oatmeal in a puddle of skim milk, which dilutes all the other flavors.

Lately, though, this formula has become a little too predictable, even when it’s eaten just once a week. On a recent visit to Ashland’s Morning Glory restaurant, I was reminded of their beloved Moroccan oatmeal, which is so popular that they sell the dry mix of oats, fruit and spices so customers can make it at home. But rather than pay $7.50 for the package, I was determined to make my own for mere pennies, with the inclusion of steel-cut oats rather than rolled, no less.

I know from the menu that the cereal contains dates and apricots. And although spices are not specified, it appears from the color that turmeric is among them. Cinnamon, I know, is heavily used in Moroccan cuisine, and cardamom and ground ginger would add extra zing.

After making this several times, I’m convinced I’ve hit on a winning combination, one that wakes up the taste buds with unexpected breakfast flavors.

Start the oatmeal with a handful of apricots and dates, about four apiece, roughly chopped and simmered in the water as it comes to a boil. I use about 1 1⁄2 cups water for 1⁄4 cup oats, which makes a single serving. As you make more servings, the ratio of water to oats decreases.

After the oats have absorbed almost all the liquid, I add about 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal and about 1⁄4 teaspoon each ground turmeric and cinnamon and 1⁄8 teaspoon each ground ginger and cardamom. You could add a few chunks of crystallized ginger instead of the ground spice. But I prefer a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, which add sweetness and even stand in for the crunch of nuts.

Try it and give me your verdict.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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