In Praise of Savory Oatmeal

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I love oatmeal. I could go on and on and on about it. But right now, because I am waiting for mine to cool so I can gobble mine up, I figured I would fill the time with a public proclamation to sing the praises of savory oatmeal.

It started for me the way it so often does when I am intrigued by a new recipe. I obsess about it until I make it, try it, and decide whether it was worth all the intrigue and obsession.

In this case, it started for me late last January, when I read a recipe that included two of my favorite things…steel cut oats and eggs…together, not as part of a baked good, but as headlining ingredients. They seemed an odd couple indeed, oatmeal and eggs cooked like that, but for some reason I bought what the writer was selling. I made it as soon as I could (which wasn’t soon enough because of how I cook my steel-cut oats; more on that later) and not only was I hooked, but started telling anyone who would listen about how culinary life-changing this recipe was. I knew it instantly. And to date, I have made and served it to precisely one other person. (God bless my old and dear friend Sarah.)

Savory oats have opened up a world of possibility for me, and my enjoyment of them now extends well beyond eggs and oats and breakfast. But before I get too carried away, let me talk about what I just ate. (I said I was writing this while I waited for them to cool, but since they cooled sufficiently I paused to eat; they’re gone now, banished to my belly.)

Anyway, first of all, Steel-Cut Oats.

I’m not going to go into details of the wherefores and whys of steel-cut oats, and I will simply say that they are worth the extra money and preparation time. I like the McGann’s ones that come in the small metal tin. I have tried the quick-cooking version put out by Bob’s Red Mill…and find them faster (obviously) but not quite as good and it could be me but I feel like 1/4c dry yields less cooked than the McGann’s.

Anyway, to cook steel cut oats:

These have a long sitting time until they are ready. So if you plan to eat them for breakfast, make them the night before; for dinner, start them in the morning.

A serving is 1/4 c. dry.

Mix that with 1 c. water in a small saucepan.

Bring it to a boil (then turn it down a bit so it keeps boiling but doesn’t boil over, and keep your eye on it. A watched pot may never boil but an I watched boiling pot of oatmeal will inevitably overflow.)

Let it boil for two minutes. A bit longer is fine, too long and you have yourself a hockey puck.

Take it off the heat, cover it, and let it sit overnight (or all day).

Reheat it on the stove (low heat and be careful) or microwave for 90 seconds to 2 minutes.

Voila. Steel cut oats. You can do a million things with them but I will only speak of a few right now. Also, you can make multiple servings and keep them refrigerated to eat during the week. For whatever reason I make one serving at a time. I can be ridiculous like that.

I started my oatmeal last night so it was ready for me when I got home from the gym this morning. I cooked two fried eggs (in a nonstick pan coated with some cooking spray) over easy while the oatmeal was heating. I took the hot oatmeal, put on some salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Grated, because it was what was in the house. Then I put the fried eggs on top, a bit more salt, pepper, and Parmesan, then kind of stirred it all up so that the yolks would run and mix with the oatmeal.

I let it cool and then I devoured it. Now I am stuffed, and only 310 calories (per MyFitnessPal so accuracy not guaranteed).

If you think about oatmeal as you would rice or couscous or quinoa or risotto, maybe it won’t seem so funny. Once you’ve eaten once, if you like it, then you can put together countless variations, and often using leftovers. I’ve mixed in sautéed spinach, grape tomatoes, caramelizing onions, different kinds of cheese, bacon bits…whatever I have on hand that sounds good to me.

Next up, these bad boys. I can’t wait!

Try savory oats and let me know what you think!

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