It's finally happening: Berry season is upon us. I can now stop staring at my bags of frozen Trader Joe's berries, wondering when I'll be able to pick up fresh ones in the store. Here in Seattle, we often see local cherries first and then, of course, all those gorgeous blueberries and strawberries, many from California. I've been scattering the blueberries on my yogurt in the morning, but then I thought about making something a bit more substantial — and trying to do so without veering into dessert territory (always an easy go-to for me).
So here's a version of a baked oatmeal made with one of my favorite grains: buckwheat.
If you're unfamiliar with buckwheat groats, they are the hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant and have a pleasant, mild flavor (when roasted their flavor becomes quite earthy). Not technically a grain or even "wheat," buckwheat is actually a naturally gluten-free seed related to the rhubarb family. The whole groats can stand in for rice or quinoa in a pilaf-style dish, make a great whole-grain salad, or masquerade as a nutritious morning breakfast.
Perhaps like many of you, I was first introduced to the idea of baked oatmeal after reading Heidi Swanson's cookbook, Super Natural Everyday. Since that time, I've seen spin-offs and tweaks — writers using different fruits or liquids, and adding nuts, seeds, and a variety of mix-ins.
I decided to do my own version using super nutritious and gluten-free buckwheat right alongside the oats, thinking this could make a breakfast bake with really interesting flavors and textures. I use coconut milk and coconut oil to give the bake a nice, sweet fragrance, and I worked to get the actual sweetener down as low as I felt it could go while still remaining delicious.
And after a few tries, I think we have a winner! The buckwheat groats stay a bit more toothsome than the oats, resulting in a really awesome overall texture. The blueberries become wonderful and jammy, and the almonds toast up into a fragrant golden-brown top. It smells like a fruit crisp in the oven but is much healthier, and it also holds up beautifully in the refrigerator so you can reheat it throughout the week. Sometimes I add a splash of milk to loosen up the leftovers when reheating, but otherwise, I just microwave it for a minute. It tastes just as great as it did the first day I made it.
I love to serve this with thick yogurt and an extra little glug of maple syrup. My husband loves to sprinkle his with a little flaky salt. The result is a dish that feels like a pretty special, involved breakfast (major upgrade from cereal!), but in reality it's quite simple to make. If you'd like to experiment with other berries or nuts, go right ahead. Next time, I think I might try a cherry-hazelnut version, and when blackberries are in season, I obviously already have a plan for them.
Blueberry Baked Buckwheat Oatmeal
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/4 cups
(200g) buckwheat groats
(100g) old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free, if necessary)
1 1/2 cups
(120g) sliced almonds, divided
1 1/2 cups
(200g) blueberries, fresh or frozen
(13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
whole milk (or water)
warmed coconut oil (or butter, melted)
maple syrup, plus more to serve
Plain yogurt, to serve (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish (or another dish with similar capacity).
In a high-speed blender or food processor, pulse the buckwheat groats for about 1 minute, or until many are split in half; it's okay if some are left whole and intact — you're not aiming for flour, just to break some of them up a bit.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cracked groats, oats, half the almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, milk, egg, vanilla, coconut oil, and maple syrup.
Layer the berries in the bottom of the baking dish, followed by the buckwheat mixture. Pour the coconut milk mixture over the top. Give the baking dish a few light whacks on the counter to help the milk mixture move down through the grains. Sprinkle the remaining almonds on top.
Bake for 45 minutes, then increase the heat to 400°F and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown. Serve with additional maple syrup or yogurt, if you’d like.
I love the flavor of coconut milk, and its rich creaminess, but if you'd prefer to use all milk in this recipe, go ahead.
I always buy full-fat coconut milk and whole milk at home, and that's what I generally call for in my recipes. If you'd prefer to use a lower-fat version, this recipe will turn out just fine.
If buckwheat is hard to find or you'd just prefer not to use it, you can go ahead and use all oats in this recipe; if you do so, decrease the amount of milk by 1/4 cup.