Five months ago, I told you all about overnight oats, the world’s easiest make-ahead breakfast. Basically, you combine 1/2 cup or so rolled oats with an equal amount of milk, be it from a cow or almond or soybean. Then stir in some bonus doodads from nut butter to raisins. I like tahini and darkest-possible chocolate chunks:
Now what if I told you that you can make this recipe even easier? (Taps you on shoulder.) Hey, hey you. You can make this recipe even easier! You just skip the “make-ahead” part.
I admit, I didn’t figure this out on purpose. It was more like, I woke up, realized I forgot to soak my overnight oats, but couldn’t think of anything better. So I threw some oats and milk in a jar and scurried out the door. By the time I ate them, they had been soaking not for 12 or 8 hours, but a little over one.
After they soak overnight, oats become tender and chewy, and the milk, thick and starchy. Which is to say, the oats become more like the milk, and the milk becomes more like the oats.
Quick-soaked oats aren’t like that. Instead the oats retain their integrity, with a crispness akin to cereal, but not one of those cereals you need to race to eat before it becomes too soggy. Quick-soaked oats could sit for a few minutes or a couple hours. It’s all good. Like overnight, you can use equal parts oats and liquid; also like overnight, you can adjust this to taste (I always seem to add more milk).
I like to eat them with raw oats because, well, it’s easiest. But if you want bonus points, you can toast a sheet pan of oats in a 350° F oven for 10 or so minutes until toasty, cool completely, then store those in a jar in the pantry. This adds even more crunch, plus a nutty flavor.
Right now, my favorite combination is soy milk, fresh berries, and a honey drizzle. But the world is your oyster. Try almond milk, chopped dates, and a tahini swirl. Or whole milk, banana slices, and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Or coconut milk, pineapple chunks, and toasted pecans.
Really, whatever you have on hand. Just make sure the milk is very cold. And don’t forget a pinch of flaky salt on top.
Have you ever tried quick-soaked oats? What combo would you dream up? Tell us in the comments!
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.