Steel Cut Oats and Dried Fruit Compote

Just as so many of my blog posts do, this one is inspired by a dish I had at a restaurant.  This particular restaurant is located in Boulder, Colorado and is called Cafe Aion.  I visited Cafe Aion a few weeks ago when on vacation visiting a friend.

Walking into Cafe Aion for breakfast was more than a pleasant surprise.  Everything on their menu is made in-house and consists of locally-sourced ingredients.  As she explained the menu, our waitress mentioned that trays full of freshly-baked bagels and muffins came out of the oven moments before we sat down.  Yum.

I ordered a glass of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice, a coffee (which arrived in a French press), a fresh-fried donut (I couldn’t resist for $1), and steel cut oats with Moroccan compote.  Everything was fresh and unbelievably delicious.  The donut was warm with cinnamon-sugar on the outside, and the juice and coffee were perfection.

While everything I had was delicious, the best part of the meal was the oatmeal.  The oats were both creamy and nutty.  Because steel cut oats are whole grain groats (as opposed to rolled oats—see more here), they have a firmer, chewier texture than typical oatmeal.  To compliment the creamy oats, a Moroccan compote made of figs, apricots, and other fruits, was spooned on top.

The oats were fantastic, and not only were they delicious, they were also nutritious.  Steel cut oats are whole grains and pack more nutrients than rolled oats.  They also take a lot longer to cook.  As a result, I’ve never made them at home before.  Until last weekend.

Last Saturday morning, I woke up a little early and made steel cut oats with dried fruit compote (similar to the compote that accompanied my oats at Cafe Aion).  The oats were just as nutty and creamy as I remembered from Boulder, and because they were satisfying, yummy, and really easy to make, I will be making them more often.

Steel Cut Oats

Adapted from an Alton Brown recipe at Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or lowfat milk)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

In a large saucepot, melt the butter and add the oats. Stir for 2 minutes to toast. Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes, without stirring.

Combine the milk and half of the almond milk with the oatmeal. Stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Mix in remaining almond milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Spoon into bowls.

Makes 4 servings.

Dried Fruit Compote

Adapted from an Alton Brown recipe at Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water, divided into 2 containers
  • 8 ounces mixed dried fruit (apples, pears, figs, prunes, apricots, mangoes, etc.), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 4 ounces sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole clove

Directions

Combine 2 cups of the water with the dried fruit in a large bowl. Let soak for 1 hour.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 2 cups of water, orange juice, sugar, and lemon zest over medium-high heat. Add the fruit and the soaking liquid to the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cinnamon and clove. Simmer 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has softened and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Serve warm or cold.

Makes 4 cups.

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