A gluten free baked oatmeal for one, made with ricotta cheese and inspired by an Italian dessert.
I’m half Italian (my mother was born in southern Italy), and trust me, Italians do some weird things — at least my family does. You know the stereotypes about Italians having loud arguments, over-using hand gestures, always cooking and eating solely Italian food — my family does all of that.
When my grandmother (or Nonna, as we say) neglected to call her daughter-in-law on her birthday, it turned into a giant argument. And my Italian family gossip like teenage girls, so everyone knew about it within minutes.
Then there’s the food. For several months a year, my relatives have sausages hanging in their garages — their garages are used more for food than cars. And then there’s the tomato-sauce making season. And the wine making season. And Panettone in December – really, I could go on about this forever.
Italian’s also love their ricotta cheese. It’s in frittatas, pasta dishes, sandwiches, desserts – really, it’s everywhere. So what makes a cheesecake ‘Italian’? Ricotta.
Italian cheesecakes use ricotta instead of cream cheese, or use a combination of ricotta and cream cheeses. This makes the cheesecake much lighter, so you don’t feel like your having a heart attack when you eat it. Lemon zest and orange zest are also common in Italian cheesecakes.
So, to go with the Italian theme, this baked oatmeal includes ricotta cheese, orange zest, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
It’s not traditional, but I’ve also included some Greek-style vanilla yogurt for texture (the yogurt makes the baked oatmeal moist – and no one likes a dry cheesecake). There’s also a little maple syrup for sweetness and extra flavor.
You could also throw in some raisins or berries, just to keep it interesting. Or add a pretty swirl of jelly/jam. Or chocolate – chocolate is always good!
This time around, I decided to stick to a basic recipe. But I definitely intend on experimenting with cheesecake oatmeals for future breakfasts. Something tells me a chocolate cheesecake is in my future.
This post was updated (with new pictures) in September 2015.
- 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons Greek-style vanilla yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon orange zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 - 3 teaspoons maple syrup
- ⅓ cup milk
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a small ramekin.
- In a bowl, use a fork to whisk together the ricotta cheese, yogurt, lemon zest, orange zest, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Stir in the milk.
- Add the rolled oats, baking power and salt, and mix until well combined.
- Transfer the mixture into the prepared ramekin. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the top is dry and a little bit firm. Enjoy!