In the past six months of bleak and chilly mornings, I have been relishing my breakfast bowl of hearty, warming oatmeal more than ever before. I appreciate the process of selecting that day's porridge variety, fruit and other mix-ins; adding spices and watching the grains bubble and thicken over the stove; and being able to control its consistency, removing it from the low heat at the precise moment when soupy turns to thick and creamy--but before the oats have congealed too fully. It truly amazes me that less than one year ago I was satisfied starting my day by popping a bowl of oats with some water in the microwave, idly staring at its steadily decreasing timer until the ubiquitous 'beeeeeep' indicated that my bowl of gloppy, uninspired mush was ready.
Since I began enjoying oatmeal not so long ago, my go-to additions were always banana and dried cranberries; yet as my consumption of and passion for this humble breakfast have both increased, I have begun to experiment with new flavors, textures, and combinations of those essential additions that turn a bland bowl of porridge into a sumptuous, nutrient-rich, and--dare I say--exciting way to start the day. As I have increasingly turned my overall eating habits towards seasonal produce in the past year, it is only natural that this would extend to breakfast. Dried fruits are a no-brainer addition to oatmeal, particularly for their concentrated sweetness and consistent availability, but there is something uniquely satisfying about discovering bits of juicy, fresh fruit amongst each warm and slow-cooked spoonful.
Winter in London has been dreadful, but I have tasted some of the most incredible pears in my life from my local farmers' market this season. And pomegranates, which somehow never fail to feel like a delicacy, seem especially so in this porridge, as each seed produces unexpected little bursts of fresh juice and a tart sweetness as you happen upon them. While the temperatures are surely rising and the sun may be shining in certain parts of the world, other locales are still enduring the last of winter's firm grip. If you awake these mornings still in need of warmth, yet seek a flavorful brightness to alleviate your porridge rut or remind you of the seasonal shift that lies just around the bend, this oatmeal may be just what you're looking for.
Pear & Pomegranate Porridge
(Directions here are for steel cut oats. If using whole rolled oats or a different grain, follow cooking instructions on packet and add fruit and spices as indicated.)
6 Tbsp. steel cut oats
3/4 cup (180 ml.) water
1/2 cup (120 ml.) milk (dairy, nut, soy, whatever you prefer)
1 small pear, diced into desired size cubes
1/4 pomegranate, deseeded
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1. In a saucepan, combine water, milk and half of the pear cubes and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally so the milk doesn't burn.
2. Add oats, cinnamon and vanilla, stir, and reduce heat to a low simmer.
3. Let oats simmer (leaving the pot uncovered) until most of the liquid is absorbed and the oats have softened, about 20-30 minutes.
4. When the oats are about halfway cooked, stir the pot contents and mash up the pear to fully mix into the porridge.
5. Once fully cooked, top off with remaining pear cubes and pomegranate seeds. Add a drizzle of honey or pure maple syrup if desired.