For Bon Appetit, by Claire Saffitz.
Are you the kind of person who goes to the gym, folds your laundry, Swiffers your floor, then sits down to a healthy breakfast at home and is at your desk by 9 a.m.? No? Me neither. I can barely make it to work in the Bon Appétit test kitchen, showered and caffeinated, within the very outer limit of what is technically considered “on-time.” I need a no-brainer breakfast, and it’s these overnight oats.
When I set out to develop these recipes for overnight oats — uncooked oats and milk left to soften in the fridge overnight—it took some convincing to get on board. I love hot oatmeal, sure, but the idea of cold, wet oats? I did not see the appeal. That is, until I discovered how the oats soften into a creamy, customizable base for whatever topping I’m in the mood for in the morning. Best of all, I can just grab the jar of oats from the fridge and get out the door.
The Basic Method
Mix 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill) with 1 1/4 cups nut milk, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, and a pinch of salt. Use any milk you like: hemp, almond, coconut, or regular dairy milk if you prefer. Stirring 2 Tbsp. each of wheat bran and flax seeds into the mix is optional, but it ups the nutrition and adds a lot of fiber that keeps you full. Cover and let the oats soak overnight in the fridge. (Side note: Don’t use instant oats, which will turn completely to mush, or steel-cut oats, which need to be cooked.)
This recipe can skew sweet or savory, so add 1 – 2 Tbsp. light agave to the oat mixture the night before if you want to take it to a sweet place. In the morning, I take the oats out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature while I get ready for work and give them a stir to loosen. Add a little more milk if they seem too thick. Then, just before eating, add a dollop of yogurt and one of the toppings below.
These combos are merely suggestions, though, so feel free to improvise and come up with your own. The key, though, is to add a lot of flavor and texture because the oats are both soft and tame (creamy and delicious, yes, but a little bland). The above recipe makes four servings, as do all the toppings, so mix everything up Sunday night and eat it for the next four days. By Friday, you’ve earned that bagel and cream cheese.
Often I go with sliced banana, sesame seeds, and a mix of maple syrup, tahini, and cinnamon. Another standby is chopped dates, fresh coconut, and almonds stirred into a mix of apple cider vinegar, honey, and coconut oil. These combos are just sweet enough without constituting dessert for breakfast.
This recipe makes roughly ½ cup tahini sauce, which keeps for about 4 days in the fridge. Keep a couple of ripe bananas handy and eat this all week.
The coconut-date mixture in this recipe gets better the longer it sits. If you can’t find fresh coconut, substitute the dried flakes.
Other days, it’s nuts and seeds (cashews, pepitas, sunflower, poppy, and fennel) sizzled in ghee with turmeric and cayenne. Or, kale cooked down in miso, mirin, and soy sauce with a soft-boiled egg, scallions, and furikake (Japanese rice seasoning) on top.
The components in this recipe sound a little complicated, but trust us. All of them can be made in advance and just need to be warmed before eating.
This sizzled seed and cashew mixture is delicious sprinkled over dip and soups, so you might want to make extra.
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