Friday, March 29, 2013

Vegan Baked Steel Cut Oats

Vegan Banana Baked Steel Cut Oats

I've blogged about fancy, brunch-worthy, maybe takes a little more effort than your everyday breakfast, Pan-Seared Steel Cut Oats. I've also blogged about the fastest way I could think of to make sure I got Overnight Steel Cut Oats in the morning with minimal effort. This post may be the smartest way I've come up with to enjoy my beloved steel cut oats for breakfast. I don't know about you, but I love batch cooking. One morning where I have a bit of time to get organized and get cooking, making a full week of wake, heat, and eat kinda meals. The prep of this method actually doesn't take much time at all and has few ingredients. 

While I never blogged about it, I have done the crock pot thing and found a mixture and cooking time I liked for batch cooking steel cut oats, but that method made so much that it was all about freezing and thawing and they were always gummier than I desired. I like my oats to have a lot of firmness to them. This recipe delivers just that. The oats are cooked through without losing any of their structure and it holds together beautifully without being at all gummy.  It comes together easily, makes the house smell heavenly while it's in the oven, and has come out perfect both times I've made them this way. If you find them to not be as wet as you like (they're more of a moist steel cut oat cake, really) then that can be easily remedied by drizzling a bit more almond milk over them before eating. I like them just the way they are though.

I love that the only sweetener in this recipe is a bit of maple syrup and a ton of bananas. Mmmmmm, bananas. I buy a bunch these days just so I can watch them get all brown and speckled, ripe for the baking. This recipe makes eight large breakfast portions or 16 smaller portions if accompanying with other breakfast favorites. Tempeh bacon, anyone?

Vegan Baked Steel Cut Oats

2 cups steel cut oats
4 cups plain almond milk, heated (will divide into two 2 cup portions)
5-6 ripe bananas, mashed (around two cups, but don't bother measuring)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional. I love what almond brings to any baked good, but feel free to leave it out)
1 tsp cinnamon
nutmeg, to taste (I just use my microplane grater on some whole nutmeg, maybe 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
1 T canola oil (this may be optional as well. When next I make it I'll leave it out and report back)

Favorite Nut Butter
Fresh Fruit

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.
line a 9x13 in baking dish with parchment paper. Pour in steel cut oats.
Heat almond milk and pour 2 cups over the oats, stir, set aside.
In a large bowl mash bananas. (I just break mine up and use the stick blender on them with the rest of the ingredients)
Pour the remaining 2 cups almond milk over bananas.
Add to bowl, syrup, extract(s), cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and oil.
Whisk really well until you have a bowl of frothy, banana yumminess.

Smells so goooooood.

Or bust out your immersion blender like I do and get that result after about a minute of blending.

Pour bowl mixture into baking pan with oats and almond milk, and stir gently. 

Place in oven for one hour.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.
I think this batch came out pretty with all those deep cracks. 

When serving, top each square with a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter (I am currently in LOVE with Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and their Chocolate Almond Butter as well) by either just spreading it on top or getting all fancy by putting it in a ziploc, snipping the corner, and piping it on. Cut fresh fruit and serve that on top as well.
Served with Justin's Chocolate Almond Butter and Fresh Strawberries

Storage: When I make this I cut it into 8 large squares and place them in a large, rectangular Pyrex dish with a lid. I can fit four on the bottom, put in a layer of wax paper or saran wrap, and then add the next four squares before putting the lid on. In the morning, I throw a square in the microwave for 30 seconds and top with nut butter and berries. If you're not one to eat the same thing every day, I bet they'd freeze well too, but I would thaw before heating again. Personally, I love eating this every day so I haven't tried freezing them myself. 

If you're not a nut butter fan (gasp!) I bet just berries is just fine. Actually, when I ran out (the horror!) I through a cup of frozen raspberries in a small sauce ban with about 1/4 cup water, a tsp or two of sugar and heated until it thickened up a bit. Then I just drizzled my hot raspberry sauce over the top.  A little goes a long way there. (Full disclosure: I totally dressed it with sauce from frozen blueberries too!)

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

If you want the weather to take a turn in South Florida, apparently all one needs to do is blog about the 'unseasonably warm' weather you're having. The nighttime temp dropped from a breezy 76 degrees to a chilling 40 something. Cold enough for our patio kitty to give us that 'you're going to set up my cage and let me sleep inside tonight, aren't you?' stare. 

Chilly enough to take one look at my newly blended carafe of Caesar dressing and declare, 'Um, no. Let's have soup!'. 

(please forgive the poor picture. the one taken via my phone was actually more editable than those from my camera. curse you, dinner time lighting!)

This soup is one I happened upon while perusing 101 Cookbooks for a pizza dough recipe. I'm not even sure what led me to it, but I knew when I read it it was one I had to try. Lentils, lemon, cilantro? Yes, please! Adapted from Deborah Madison's Red Lentil Soup with Lime recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, it's hearty but bright and uses the lemons which are looking so good around here right now. 

Obviously, this vegan version does not include the yogurt suggested in the original recipe. I don't think a substitute is at all necessary. Also, I opted to nix the rice and in it's place serve with roasted cauliflower (the more veggies, the better, I say!).  I love how the sweetness of the onions and roasted cauliflower compliment the tart lemon juice. I increased the mustard seed just a tad, decreased the cumin a smidge, and added zest to the final bowl, just to suit our tastes. We loved this soup, it was really flavorful, filling but not heavy, and hearty with a bright burst of lemon tang.  It will definitely be added to our go-to soup arsenal. 

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon (and Spinach and Cauliflower)
serves six

2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked through
7 cups water 
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced small
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoons
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 3 lemons
zest of one lemon
sea salt
5 cloves garlic, slivered (divided)
2 small - medium heads cauliflower, washed, dried completely*, cut into smallish florets
2 large bunches fresh spinach, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cauliflower in parchment covered Pyrex dishes, roasting pan, or lipped baking sheet (I use two Pyrex casserole dishes). Add one tablespoon of olive oil and a few pinches of sea salt and toss to coat evenly. *you want to be sure to start with dry cauliflower so it roasts well without steaming so much first. the result is a better browned, sweeter roasted cauliflower. 

Place lentils and water in large stock pot. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, turmeric, and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and falling apart, about 20-25 minutes. 

While lentils are cooking, place cauliflower in oven for 20-25 minutes. During the last 10-15 minutes, add 4 cloves of slivered garlic, and toss to evenly distribute. Put back in oven. 

Place last tablespoon of oil in large skillet on medium heat, add remaining slivered garlic and heat for about 30 seconds, careful not to let garlic burn. Add spinach and a pinch or two of sea salt. turn carefully with tongs to coat. Add 1 tablespoon of water and cover. Lower heat, allowing spinach to wilt.

Using a stick/immersion blender, blend lentils until smooth. (you can do this in batches in a blender or food processor as well, but a stick blender is invaluable for tasks such as this one!). Taste for salt. My husband added a bit more. Me? Not so much. To each their own! Stir in the fresh squeezed lemon juice (I'm sure bottled juice tastes fine, but fresh really makes this soup, I think). Place serving of soup in bowl, add roasted cauliflower. Squeeze out excess water from wilted spinach and serve some of that in the same bowl. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of lemon zest on top and enjoy!

Bad, yellow dinner time lighting and all!