This is the second post in a row that I am throwing some fancy word at you, that I didn't even know existed in the food world until about a year ago. Horchata. The word itself sounds like something really delicious. It's a mexican drink made from a rice + cinnamon "milk" mixture and is typically served chilled, over ice. Ever since I made it for the first time a few months ago, I've been dreaming about all of the things that I could make with it outside of it's tasty drink form. The flavors are so simple and versatile, there's so many things that come to mind.
Depending on how you work with your horchata, you can take it in the direction of a warm-weather-piña-colada ...... or you can work more with the cinnamon notes and have it embrace fall or winter flavors, which is what we are doing today.
This time of year, I eat a lot of oatmeal. It's my go-to breakfast, especially when the weather gets a little chilly and I am craving more warm, cooked foods over raw, cold smoothie-type breakfasts. When I am in a rush or just want something basic, I whip up some quick cooking oats with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. I prefer them on the savory side, and sometimes I throw in some other spices and seeds like za'atar and sesame.
Oatmeal is funny. It's one of the most versatile grains, but one that gets very little action as far as creative recipes go. Growing up, I didn't think I was allowed to eat oatmeal any other way than with cinnomon, raisins, and butter (typically coming in a packet form that just required water and a minute in the microwave). At breakfast buffets, you pretty much ONLY see oats severed with brown sugar, cinnamon, and maybe some nuts and banana ( if you're lucky). Oatmeal deserves so much more.
Since savory oats are usually my preference, I always promised myself that the next time I shared an oatmeal recipe here, it was gong to be a savory one. But that was until horchata came into my life. While this is a super fancy way to eat your humble oats, there is something about the flavors of the horchata that is remenicient of my simple childhood oatmeal. The sweet kind, with cinnamon. The horchata flavors really work with the oats, and when cooked, the horchata gets thick and creamy and gives the oats a richness that water does not. And don't even get me started on the figs. They are around for such a short time, I like to sneak them in as much as possible, and this is a great place to start. So savory oats will have to wait until next time ...... until we've tried this thick and creamy recipe with horchata, topped with fall's best roasted sweet treat.
horchata oats with pistachios + roasted figs
SPECIAL EQUIPTMEMENT: a nut milk bag + a high-powered blender (such as a vitamix)
1 cup of long grain white (or brown) rice
4 cups of filtered water
1/2 of a cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 1/2 cups of rolled oats (quick cooking)
for the roasted figs + pistachios:
about 6 figs, cut in half
a drizzle of honey (optional)
a handful of pistachios, shelled, and roughly chopped
*The night before, soak the rice + cinnamon + water mixture:
- Place the rice and water and cinnamon stick into a high-powered blender and run on high for about a minute, until the rice is almost liquified. Cover the mixture and keep it in the fridge overnight (or for a min of 3 hours). I usually just store it in the blender, since the next step takes place in the blender.
The morning you're ready to enjoy, finish making the horchata:
- Take the mixture out of the fridge (put it back into the blender if you stored it in a different vessel). Add the vanilla, salt, maple syrup, and coconut oil and blend until everything is incorporated.
- Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag, into a medium sized sauce pan. Discard the pulp (or save it for baking or another use, if you prefer).
Right before you start cooking the oatmeal, get the figs roasting:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400º.
- Place the sliced figs onto a baking sheet, and drizzle with honey (if you are using).
- Bake the figs for 10-15 minutes, until they are soft and bubbly. Remove, and set aside until you're ready to serve.
Cook the oats:
- Place the saucepan with the horchata onto the the stove, and bring heat the mixture over medium heat while stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken slightly, and stirring will make it thicken consistently (instead of separating). Also, make sure this does not come to a rolling boil, or else the horchata tends to separate and thicken too much.
- After about 2 minutes of heating the horchata, add the oats, lower the heat to low, and continue to stir constantly. Do this for about 8-10 minutes, until your oats are cooked. Using this method, your oats will be "al-dente" / have a slight bite to them, but if you want them to be a little softer you can add a little water (about 2 tablespoons) and cook for another minute or two. Taste to see if you like how they are cooked and if they need any seasoning. I find another pinch or two of salt at this point might increase all of the flavors.
Assemble and serve:
- Spoon the mixture into individual bowls. Divide the roasted figs amongst the bowls, and spoon any extra juices that the figs released over the oats. Finish with a sprinkle of the chopped pistachios. Enjoy immediately.