Vegetarian Lemon Curd Oats
I need to know if you love lemon (drop me a comment below!) because it is one of my favorite flavors ever, and making recipes based on it is so fun. I love lemon in pasta, soup, dressings and especially in yogurt and dessert. It seems like the perfect addition to add some brightness to a meal prep classic, overnight oats. Aside from the oat classics like apple cinnamon, peanut butter, banana, or blueberry, you can add some creativity to switch things up. This Vegetarian Lemon Curd Oats recipe is the perfect way to add a bright flavor to your mornings. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, this one’s for you!
Overnight oats takes the premise that dry oats love to absorb as much liquid as possible but instead of using heat to get them to absorb the liquid, you let them soak overnight to absorb the flavors and plump up for a quick and easy breakfast. This saves a lot of time so it becomes a truly grab-and-go breakfast.
The beauty of this recipe is that the lemon curd also needs to chill overnight to get to the right creamy texture, so once you have it all prepped you just hit the hay and wake up to breakfast perfection.
How to make my Vegetarian Lemon Curd Oats:
I wanted to make my own lemon curd to put my own healthier spin on it because it is traditionally made with egg yolks, lemon, sugar, and butter. An indulgence is fine, of course, but this isn’t vegan-friendly and many of my vegetarian friends don’t eat eggs and/or dairy so I needed an alternative.
I found that lemon curd is actually very easy to make vegan and vegetarian. This is a great time to give a shoutout to my Mom who masterminded this recipe. She’s the one who taught me everything I know about cooking and she’s so creative. That’s what it takes to adapt a recipe like this one.
Coconut milk and lemon are the base for this vegetarian lemon curd and I thickened it up with cornstarch and added just a touch of maple syrup to balance the tanginess of lemon. For this recipe, I also added a pinch of saffron to make this lemon curd yellow (typically the yellow comes from egg yolks!). It turned out so well and pairs very well with oats for a lovely, bright, sweet/tart flavor. You could put it on chia pudding or dessert, too! I think it would actually be an awesome replacement for the mango in my Tropical Mango Chia Pudding recipe or as a topping for my Vanilla Nice Cream recipe.
In this recipe whole rolled oats are preferable as they will absorb the liquid the best without adding heat. Steel cut oats are wonderful, but the structure makes it difficult for them to absorb enough liquid to be the right texture. You want to cook your steel cut oats.
Oatmeal is a kind of wonder-food because of the many health benefits it brings. It is full of fiber which most of us don’t get enough of. Fiber is important to gut health, both helping remove waste from our digestion and helping feed the “good bacteria” that are essential to health. The type of fiber in oatmeal also works to lower cholesterol which is one of the ways it helps heart health, which you will often see on the packaging.
You can find coconut milk in a can; either full-fat or light, or in a carton. I used the full-fat canned version in this recipe because it gives a great creamy feel to the lemon curd, but here are some differences if you want to try other options:
- Full-fat canned coconut milk: relatively high in saturated fat, may partially solidify in cool temperatures so be sure to thoroughly shake to combine before opening the can.
- Light canned coconut milk: lower fat and saturated fat, less creamy taste and feel.
- Carton coconut milk: much lower fat, add water to get a more “milk-like” consistency, often includes added sugars and preservatives, so make sure to read the label.
Milk Options for the Vegetarian Lemon Curd Oats:
While coconut milk is used to make the vegetarian lemon curd, you’ll use a different kind of milk for your oatmeal. Almond or soy milk is used to soak the oats, to help them expand and get a great chewy texture. Be sure when choosing non-dairy milk alternatives you check for added sugars and to see what vitamins and minerals are added in (fortified). Unsweetened is the way to go.
You can use any milk alternative that works for you including:
- Soy milk: most similar in nutrition to cow’s milk: protein (6g/cup), vitamins, calcium and phosphorus.
- Almond milk: much different than cow’s milk nutritionally: protein (1g/cup), 50% of daily vitamin E.
- Oat milk: contains some soluble fiber to help with digestion along with about half the protein (3g/cup) found in soy milk.
- Cow’s milk: high in calcium, protein (8g/cup), many vitamins and minerals and is often fortified with vitamins A and D.
This delicious, pudding-like treat goes very well on pancakes (recipe here!) or waffles and also pairs well with baked goods like cookies or scones. What do you like to pair with lemon curd? Let me know in the comments!
Vegetarian Lemon Curd Oats
- 1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 pinch saffron
- 2 cups whole rolled oats
- 4 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
- Combine the coconut milk and the lemon zest in a small saucepan and whisk together.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and the cornstarch and whisk to thoroughly dissolve.
- Use a spatula to add the lemon juice mixture to the coconut cream mixture and stir. Add the maple syrup and saffron and whisk again until well combined.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low bubble, whisking often. It will start getting thick after 4-8 minutes. Use a rubber spatula for stirring to ensure the curd isn’t sticking to the bottom or sides of the pan.
- Once the mixture thickens and is more of a ‘sauce’ texture, remove the saucepan from the heat to taste and adjust flavors as needed – adding more lemon zest or maple syrup. I like the lemon curd to be tart.
- Let it rest for 15 minutes, then whisk the mixture once more and transfer to a glass bowl and cover.
- Refrigerate the lemon curd for 5-6 hours (or overnight) until it is completely chilled and set.
- While chilling the lemon curd, combine the oats and the almond or soy milk and chill for the same period of time in the refrigerator.
- Serve by layering the oats and the lemon curd, topping with additional lemon zest, chopped fruit, nuts, or coconut flakes as desired.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
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