Ina Garten's Easy Trick For Tastier Dried Fruit In Oatmeal

Oatmeal was created to be customized. Its neutral taste allows for both sweet and savory elements to leave their mark on your taste buds, making it a versatile dish. While you should always add a pinch of salt to it to highlight the nutty flavor of this hot cereal, to make a perfect bowl of oatmeal, borrow a page from Ina Garten — who adds dried fruits to this breakfast staple to elevate the taste and texture of her rolled oats. But to get the maximum taste out of the dried fruits and a more exciting oatmeal, the Barefoot Contessa uses a simple trick. She makes use of her pot lid to create a steamer.

In her recipe, Garten stirs in raisins, bananas, and dried cherries to her pot of oatmeal before setting the lid on top. The steam that forms once the lid is in place rehydrates and plumps up the dried fruits, giving them a juicy flavor that sweetens the oatmeal and enhances its toasty nature. And don't worry, the transformation is quick. It only takes about two minutes for the fruit to become reinvigorated.  

Timing is everything

Before you make your next bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit, bear in mind that timing is everything when add it to the mix. It's a fine line between this fruit turning mushy versus plump. For this reason, Ina Garten waits until the end of the cooking process to add her dried fruit so its texture has a bit of a pop when you sink your teeth into it and it adds some contrast. She serves it with a little milk and a drizzle of maple syrup. It's definitely a decadent bowl of oatmeal and one that will satiate and keep you feeling full until lunchtime rolls around. 

What you will appreciate about using dried fruit in your oatmeal is there really is no prep work involved. It's ready to use, with no chopping involved. Not to mention, there are a lot of dried fruit options so you can get creative with your add-ins. Consider making a tropical version of this cereal for your morning meal by adding dried mango and nectarines, along with a bit of coconut and banana. Want something a little lighter? Add dried blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries that will remind you of summer.