Savory oats! Have you tried them? I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. I’m accustomed to oatmeal that tends toward the sweeter side. After publishing my “perfect” steel-cut oats recipe, a few of you recommended trying savory oats. Oats are whole grains, after all, so why wouldn’t they be good with savory toppings? Polenta and risotto are creamy like oats, and they’re great with savory toppings.
I cooked some up and stirred in extra salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper and cheese (Parmesan). Then I topped one bowl with a fried egg and both with lightly dressed, lemony arugula. I was skeptical for the first few bites, but now I can vouch for the idea.
I can’t claim that my choice of toppings was the be-all, end-all of savory oats, but I’m offering it as a starting off point. Think of savory oats as an alternative to a stir fry—they’re both cheap, veggie-packed, improvised dinners, perfect for busy weeknights. I keep my pantry stocked with Bob’s Red Mill’s steel cut oats, so savory oats are always an option.
My next savory oats might feature sautéed mushrooms (like this) or sun-dried tomatoes for some extra-savory umami flavor. Sturdy greens (like kale or collards) sautéed with garlic sound epic. What sounds good to you?
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup neutral-flavored milk of choice (like cow's milk or plain, unsweetened almond milk) or an additional cup of water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
- 1 cup Bob's Red Mill steel-cut oats (choose certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Mix-in ideas: grated cheese or nutritional yeast, drizzle of additional olive oil or pat of butter, sautéed veggies or greens, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes and/or ground spices
- Topping ideas: toasted chopped nuts or seeds, fried/poached/scrambled eggs and/or lightly dressed fresh greens
- In a large saucepan, combine the water and milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. In the meantime, melt the butter or warm the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is sizzling or the oil is shimmering, add the oats and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, around 2 minutes. This toasting step greatly enhances the flavor of the oats.
- Stir the oats into the simmering water/milk mixture. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick.
- Stir in the salt. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally and reducing heat as necessary to prevent scorching on the bottom, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. (If you have doubled the recipe, your oatmeal might need an extra 5 minutes cooking time here.) The oatmeal will be very creamy when it's done.
- Remove from heat and let the oatmeal rest for 5 minutes before serving so it has more time to thicken up and cool down a palatable temperature. Season to taste with additional salt (I added another ¼ teaspoon), pepper and optional spices. Stir in any mix-ins that you'd like now.
- Portion oatmeal into bowls and add any toppings you'd like. Let any extra oatmeal cool completely before covering and refrigerating.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Use olive oil instead of butter, non-dairy milk (or water) and don't add cheese. Sun-dried tomatoes or sautéed mushrooms would add some umami, and nutritional yeast could add some cheesy flavor. Don't add eggs if you're vegan.
Make it gluten free: Use certified gluten-free steel cut oats (Bob's Red Mill makes some) and make sure your toppings are gluten free (all of the ideas listed above are gluten free).
Make it egg/nut/soy free: Don't add anything with eggs, nuts or soy. :)
This post was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill and I received compensation for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!