Two years ago, the only thing I craved for breakfast on the weekend was pancakes. For months and months, I ate pancakes — drizzled with maple syrup, alongside a mug of hot coffee — every single Saturday morning before heading out to the pottery studio. If my partner was doing the cooking, I would sometimes tolerate Belgian waffles, because I’m accommodating like that. But much to my partner’s dismay, one day I went head over heels for porridge, and I haven’t looked back since.* This roasted pear and fig oatmeal is my latest love.
I’ve been eating a lot of pears lately. This is a funny thing for me to admit, as I was an ardent refusenik of pear consumption for an entire quarter of a century. I’ve never been a picky eater, but I was really scarred by years and years of encountering those mealy, pale cubes in cups and cans of mixed fruit that seemed to function only as cheap, tasteless filler. Yes, I found them even more loathsome than those terrible hot pink orbs that loosely approximated that fruit we know as “cherries.”
Anyway, a couple of years ago, I deduced that I have oral allergy syndrome, which means I exhibit an allergic response to several foods in their raw forms. Namely, all the ones that taste best raw: cherries, peaches, figs, hazelnuts, and the most sorry one of all for a New Englander in autumn: apples. This is truly torturous because there are few things in life that bring me greater pleasure than spending a crisp autumn afternoon with its long shadows wandering about an apple orchard.
As it turns out, some of the orchards around here also grow pears. And for whatever reason, although a bite of a raw apple causes my mouth and throat to become excruciatingly itchy, I don’t seem to have any adverse reaction to pears. And so over time I have learned to love them, with their mild sweetness and rough golden skins.
While you could certainly throw chopped pears directly into oatmeal while it cooks, I think roasting really brings out their best in both texture and flavor. Don’t be discouraged by this step; it really adds barely any time at all to your preparation, as they’ll roast in the time it takes for your oatmeal to cook. And while you could certainly roast slices of fresh figs alongside the pears, dried figs are much easier for most of us to get our hands on, so that’s what I’ve used here. Stirred into the rolled oats as they simmer, they lend a touch of sweetness, and their lovely little seeds disperse throughout the porridge. Coupled with some warm spices and a touch of agave, this porridge is a truly lovely way to wake up on a fall morning — and it isn’t too hard on the eyes, either, is it?
- 2 small ripe pears, thinly sliced
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 c rolled oats
- 1 c plant milk
- 1 c water
- 4 dried figs, chopped
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger powder
- generous pinch cardamon
- pinch salt
- 1 thinly sliced fig for topping, optional
- agave nectar, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper.
- Toss pear slices with lime juice and arrange in a single layer on baking sheet.
- Bake for ~15 minutes or until slices are tender.
- In a small pot over high heat, bring oats, milk, and water to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat and add figs, spices, and salt, and continue to simmer for ~15 minutes, or until oatmeal is cooked.
- If you’d like the oatmeal to be a bit looser, stir in some more plant milk.
- Once pears have finished roasting, chop half them and stir into oatmeal.
- Portion oats into bowls and arrange remaining pear slices and fig slices on top.
- Drizzle with agave if desired.
- Serve hot.
*In retrospect, that’s probably why we broke up. Be careful out there!