Oats are, in our opinion, a vastly under-appreciated kitchen staple. Their neutral flavor beautifully complements both sweet and savory pairings. With decadent starches producing a smooth creamy sauce that surrounds the nutty chewy grains of oats, this dish rivals the texture of risotto with significantly less effort! In this recipe, we use caramelized roasted honeynut squash to add luscious texture and superb sweetness—in addition to an outstandingly glorious orange color! Thin ribbons of poached kale offer vibrant pops of green and a forward earthy flavor that feels utterly appropriate during these colder months.
The true star of this dish is the Baharat spice; warming allspice, black pepper, nutmeg and clove are balanced by the slight whisper of citrus from coriander and delicate floral notes of cardamom. We find Sahadi's Syrian Baharat Spice Blend to be unrivaled, having a miraculous ability to transform savory and sweet dishes. We highly recommend you invest in a jar!
This oatmeal, topped with crispy squash skins, crunchy pecans, and luminous golden raisins, is a stunning composition of the textures and flavors of the autumn and winter seasons. We love to serve it as a side dish for holiday meals, as a bed roasted chicken or root vegetables for a main course, and even on its own as a deliciously comforting breakfast. Each bowl is a masterpiece of color that will surely wow even the pickiest guests!
4 honeynut squashes*
3-4 large kale leaves**
6 cups water (for oats)
1 cup dry white wine
1 and 3/4 cup steel cut oats
2 tbsp Sahadi's Syrian Baharat Spice Blend or
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried leek powder***
1/3 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts
1/3 cup golden raisins or dried tart cherries
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Cut honeynut squash in half length-wise then scoop out and discard seeds. Don't worry about removing the strands along the middle of the squashes, they'll cook down and soften in the oven. Lightly brush the cut side of the squashes with olive oil and lay, cut side down, on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they are soft to the touch and have released some of their liquid.
Meanwhile, prepare the kale. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (aim for a salinity that is roughly that of the ocean). Wash kale leaves and remove the main stems. Cut the kale (perpendicularly to the stem line) into thin ribbons ~3mm wide or as fine as you would like. Add the sliced kale to the boiling water and allow to poach until the kale has softened to the desired tenderness. Drain the kale and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking further.
Then, in a medium sauce pan, bring white wine and 6 cups of water to a boil. Slowly add in steel cut oats and stir until slightly thickened (~5 minutes). Reduce the heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the oats are cooked (~20 minutes). At this point, the oats should have softened but should still maintain a pleasant chew.
Remove the oats from the heat and add the Baharat spice blend (or the allspice, coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg) and leek powder. Stir to combine.
Remove the flesh from the honeynut squash, being careful not to damage the skins as they will be used later. Add the squash to the oatmeal and stir well to combine. As you stir, the oatmeal should turn an even orange color which will indicate the squash has been fully incorporated.
Add the sliced kale (reserving ~1/4 cup to use as garnish) and stir to distribute evenly in the oats. Salt the oatmeal to taste. (If the mixture lacks depth, add 1/4tsp of white wine vinegar to brighten it)
Turn the oven to low broil. Carefully, using the side of a large knife, scrape any remaining flesh from the squash skins. Slice the skins into ribbons (~1/4” x 2”) and brush both sides with olive oil. Lay on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake on the top rack for a few minutes until the skins have browned, bubbled, and crisped. Be careful to watch them intently as they will brown quickly and are prone to burning. Remove the tray from the oven and lightly sprinkle the skins with salt.
To serve, spoon the oatmeal into a bowl and garnish with kale, crisped squash skins, chopped nuts, and dried fruit. Enjoy! (At this point you may also add sliced roasted chicken or caramelized roasted root vegetables to serve a substantive main course)
* Feel free to substitute another sweet squash if you have difficulty tracking down honeynuts. Kabocha, koginut, even butternut would be delicious!
**Any dark bitter greens would work well in place of kale. Collards and chard are both delicious substitutes
***leek powder is one of our favorite ingredients. You can make it yourself by baking leeks, sliced paper thin, at a very low temperature for several hours until they have dried and caramelized slightly. Then simply grind using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Onion powder can be substituted for leek powder in this recipe but you may need to reduce the quantity as onion powder lacks the subtle sweetness of leek powder.