I know, I know... what, pray-tell, is this apple and nut-crumbly topped thing doing here in May. Would you believe that the Northern Utah high desert, land of the fourteen-day spring, has developed a Seattle-esque languor of thunderstorms and wind? That we've been slathering on sunscreen in the morning only to throw on our rain shells and boots in the afternoon (or vice versa)? That I haven't had to water my garden once in the past week and a half? That the ski resorts have closed for the season even though we've had an additional 16 inches of snow in the mountains in past 72 hours?
It is crazy-town.
But it's reinvigorated our desire for baked and braised and stick-to-your-ribs things for the time being, as we are feeling these feelings of homebody-ness and the need for thick socks and weekend mornings spent on the carpet with bowl food and Calvin & Hobbes anthologies. This oatmeal has been in the back of my mind since I received this book as a gift two years ago, and I am face-palming myself for not making it earlier. The original recipe calls for bananas and walnuts, but I'd encourage you to try this version while rhubarb is in season. It is like eating apple crumble and creme brulée and oatmeal all at the same time, and it has just enough cinnamon and nutmeg to make it feel warm and cozy even when eaten leftover straight out of the fridge.
Baked Oatmeal with Apples, Rhubarb, Almonds, and Pepitas
adapted from Heidi Swanson - serves 6 generously, or 12 as part of a larger brunch spread
This is the dream brunch dish, as you can prep the rhubarb compote the night before, and then easily prep the rest of the ingredients in the morning. Put it in the oven about a half-hour before the meal is slated to begin (it cooks for closer to 40 minutes, but in my experience people are generally a few minutes late to brunch), and it will fill your kitchen with all sorts of lovely smells before people arrive. I've given you proportions for an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish, but you can easily 1 1/2 or double the recipe to suit your headcount or available baking dish size. I ended up 1 1/2-ing the recipe to fill my oval baking dish; if you do the same, aim for 5-6 apples instead of 3-4.
2 cups rolled oats (not instant oats)
1/2 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar (granulated sugar), divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3-4 large apples (Fuji, Pippin and McIntosh apples will all keep their shape when cooked) cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges or slices
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Rhubarb Compote (recipe follows)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons chopped crystalized ginger, optional
Fresh fruit or berries (blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries would all be delicious)
Preheat the oven to 375˚F/190˚C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter an 8-inch square baking dish, and set aside.
In a bowl, mix together the rolled oats, pepitas, flax seeds, chia seeds, 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, half of the melted butter, and vanilla.
In a third bowl, combine the apple slices with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the lemon juice, and toss to combine. Arrange the apples in the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Spoon the rhubarb compote over the apples (make sure it is distributed relatively evenly). Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk-egg mixture over the oats, and gently give the baking dish a couple of thwacks on the counter so the milk evenly soaks the oats. Scatter the sliced almonds and the crystalized ginger, if using, across the top.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture is set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the remaining melted butter over the top, and serve warm with yogurt and fresh fruit.
Rhubarb Compote (makes 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups sliced rhubarb (about 3-4 stalks)
1/4 cup sugar
a generous pinch of cinnamon
Combine the rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of water in a heavy-bottomed pot. Set the pot over low heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb begins to break down and turns rosy in color, about 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary to keep it from burning on the bottom of the pan. Taste, and add more sugar if necessary (I like my compote slightly tart).