It’s a rare occasion when the Maltese family get together and someone doesn’t bring something from their garden. And so, fitting with tradition, Jase’s auntie Rose brought bags of her homegrown mandarins and lemons to our lunch the other day. The mandarins are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen, with skin so intensely fragrant and fresh, they practically drip oil when peeled.
Somehow, I ended up with the whole bag to myself. Their sweet-tart juice and zest felt like a great way to complement one of our favourite breakfasts and certainly one of my biggest pregnancy cravings: bircher muesli. Matched with soft, chopped dates and apricots, plus a dash of cinnamon, toasted almonds and pistachios, this staple (which I first blogged here in 2011!) got itself a Mediterranean makeover.
Overnight oats took the internet by storm last year; unlike a lot of food trends, this is one I can really get behind. They are full of nutrients, keep me full for hours (a rarity these days), and satisfy a sweet craving without needing refined sugar. You can omit some of the dried fruit here and instead, let each person sweeten their own portion with maple syrup at the table. I prefer to let the fruit and cinnamon do the sweetening and forgo honey and syrup altogether.
This is an ‘eyeball it’ kind of recipe. If you feel it needs more moisture, add more milk, water or fresh juice. Versatility is the shining feature of bircher muesli. Try it my way to get a feel for it, then let your stomach be your guide.
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1 large handful each: chopped dried dates and apricots
- 1 large handful toasted almonds and pistachios, chopped
- 1 large granny smith apple, grated (with peel)
- Zest of 1 mandarin
- 1 cup fresh mandarin juice (substitute fresh orange juice)
- Milk (dairy or non-dairy), to moisten (budget for about 3 cups)
- 3 heaped tbsp plain yogurt
- Dash of cinnamon, about 1/4 tsp
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
In a 2L storage container, combine the rolled oats, chopped dried fruit and chopped nuts.
Grate the apple - skin and all - over the oat mixture, and add the mandarin zest and juice.
Pour in enough milk just to cover the oats. It looks like a lot, but the oats absorb a huge amount of liquid.
Add the yogurt, cinnamon and vanilla, and gently stir until combined. Over-mixing can make the oats gluey, so stir until everything is just incorporated.
Cover and place in the fridge to set for a few hours - overnight is best. Add milk or orange juice to moisten further if necessary.
Serve with a dash of cinnamon or fresh fruit.
This recipe can be easily made vegan by swapping cow's milk for almond, rice or soy.