It was my grandmother who taught me to love oatmeal. She would come home in the early morning hours after working the graveyard shift as a pediatric nurse and make old-fashioned rolled oats cooked with brown sugar and raisins, splashed with whole milk. I would sit in the morning-lit kitchen nook, complete with orange Formica table and white wooden bench seating beside the avocado-green refrigerator, waiting for my breakfast.
I love oatmeal because it reminds me of the years I lived at Grandma's house. I love oatmeal because it represents to me the sacrifice, selflessness and unconditional love of a woman who worked hard all night and then came home with a smile on her face to make breakfast for me and send me off to school.
I didn't understand then, as a young grade-schooler, what this meant or how amazing it was. Back then, it was just a simple bowl of oats. But now that I'm a grown woman and a mother of three, I understand that it was always immeasurably more than a bowl of oats.
It's Mother's Day, and Mother's Day equals beautiful brunch fare. I recommend a big dish of hearty, nourishing baked oatmeal that's layered with bananas and maple syrup, studded with walnuts and bursting with fresh blueberries. Baked oatmeal is the perfect way to make this breakfast staple for a crowd, and this recipe can easily be doubled. While the oatmeal is baking, your stovetop is free to crisp up some bacon or scramble some eggs to serve alongside. Happy Mother's Day! And thanks, Grandma, for the oats.
Blueberry banana baked oatmeal
2 ripe bananas, sliced
¾ cup fresh blueberries
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 11/2 quart casserole dish.
2. Lay the sliced bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle ½ cup of the blueberries over bananas.
3. In a bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Stir and sprinkle over the fruit.
4. Whisk together the milk, egg, butter, syrup and vanilla. Pour over oats, coating evenly. Sprinkle remaining blueberries and walnuts over top. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden and bubbly and set in the center. Serve with milk. Recipe adapted from The Curvy Carrot.
Note: Leftovers reheat well the next day. Store covered in refrigerator. Additional toppings might include: brown sugar, additional maple syrup, more walnuts, milk or cream, etc.
Maya Evoy lives in Nikiski and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com.