It seems everyone is making baked oatmeal these days – or maybe just Molly and Jeanette (hi!) – but each time I see it I think – I should give that a try with red lentils. And so this morning when I woke up to grey, and (yet more) snow on the ground, watched the neighbour scrape ice off the car windshield, and had to return from the bathroom to retrieve wooly socks to protect my feet from an ice-cold floor, I grumpily decided that this might be the day to give it a go.
When I wrote Spilling the Beans with my junior high school BFF Sue, baking possibilities opened up when she mentioned her habit of stirring a spoonful of lentils into her morning porridge to boost fibre and protein. Genius, I say. Those dry red lentils (they’re orange, really) are split through their middles, and when cooked, perfectly mimic oats. Only they’re far higher in fibre, and of course the bean-grain combo provides a complete protein. And what does everyone seem to want more of in their breakfasts? Protein and fibre.
I forgot the nuts, distracted by the question of whether to toast them or not (I burn nuts at the best of times – when I’m not getting a kid dressed and checking homework and making lunches and discovering that he needs to bring something made from a rock or mineral to school in ten minutes) and I loved Jeanette’s addition of coconut, but forgot that too, so excited was I by the prospect of lentils baked into oatmeal.
Yes, excited by lentils. I’m a fibre nerd. I come by it honestly – from my gastroenterologist dad who loves oatmeal for breakfast, and who in the eighties added sawdustlike oat bran to everything, including our (extra lean) homemade burgers. Turns out you actually do turn into your parents. Luckily, in my case it’s not a bad thing. Next time I have the opportunity to make breakfast for my dad, I know he’ll be equally excited by the prospect of lentils in his oatmeal.
And yes, they bake in beautifully, slipping by undetected by those not in the know. Wink.
Baked Oatmeal with Berries and Lentils
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup dry red lentils
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries or both
1/3 cup shredded coconut (optional)
2 cups whole milk (or half 1%, half half & half)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In an 8-inch square (or similar-sized) baking dish, mix together the oats, lentils, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Scatter with berries.
In another bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, butter and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the oats, and give it a gentle stir to distribute everything evenly.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the oats have set. Serve warm, topped with milk or a splash of cream. Leftovers reheat beautifully.