Oatmeal: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

(we’ve really gotta get us a live-in food photographer)

Mrs. Homegrown Here:

Okay, this is one is a little weird.  I’ll tell you right off that Erik won’t eat this stuff (it just seems wrong to him), but I love it.

I’m exploring the world of savory oatmeal. I’m sure there are savory oatmeal recipes on the web, but I haven’t looked because I’m enjoying working without a map.

What I’m doing right now is making oatmeal with seaweed in it, inspired by both my love of Japanese style breakfasts, and half remembered things about the Irish eating dulse in their porridge. I don’t like sweet cereal, so this suits me fine in the morning–but I also like it for lunch or dinner.

What I do is start the oatmeal water boiling and toss in shreds of dried seaweed. I’ve been using roasted nori, the sushi sheets, and also the flavored nori strips, because that’s all I have on hand. But there’s a whole world of more interesting seaweeds to try–including dulse. Anyway, after I shred a lot nori in the water, I add a dash of tamari and a dash of soy sauce, then the oatmeal. And finally I stir in a big pat of butter. This doesn’t jive with the Japanese thing so well, but I find butter just takes the whole thing up a notch in terms of savory, unctuous goodness.

I think this would be spectacular with a little salmon on top. And I’m going to move forward and try adding things like mushrooms, or cooking the oatmeal with stock.

Do any of you make savory oatmeal?

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21 Comments

  1. savory oatmeal is fantastic i have often topped it with a fried egg for breakfast letting the yolk combine with the oats to make a really filling and tasty breakfast for a cold morning
    as a side dish for trout and salmon its really good too just a bit of butter and salt kind of like scottish grits though i prefer steel cut oats over rolled oats

  2. I’ve never had savory oatmeal, but I like savory quinoa dishes, so I would probably like them. It’s a fascinating idea. I’m trying to get away from sweet breakfasts without eating eggs every day.

    If you want to keep going on the Japanese theme, have you thought about making some dashi? It’s the broth used as a base for miso soup, and it’s made from kombu seawead and a particular kind of dried fish called bonito. You probably have to go to an asian or international market to get both. Traditionally, you make a batch of dashi for your miso soup and then re-use the seaweed and dried fish to make a second batch of (less-strong) dashi to use for cooking other dishes. Second dashi would probably be fantastic in your savory oatmeal.

    If you want to branch into other cuisines for inspiration, look to the flavor combinations used in savory dishes featuring quinoa and bulgur and then substitute oatmeal. Both quinoa and bulgur tend to taste nuttier than oatmeal, but you could get closer to their flavor if you used steel cut oats and toatsted them a bit before cooking them.

    Good luck, and let us know what you come up with!

  3. I’ve made brose – a hearty Scots soup with cabbage, potato, onions steel cut oats, broth, and bacon. That’s pretty savory, I’d say. It’s pretty good too. If Eric can’t stomach a bowl of rolled oats with “weird” flavors, you might well sneak the cut oats in this soup right by him, soften him up a bit. I also like whole spelt grains just steamed and served for breakfast with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Apparently that’s what kept the Roman legions on the move, back in the day.

  4. Oatmeal is a great grain but under used. I use rice in 100+ different ways. I like plain white rice with a little soy sauce and butter but not everyday. Sometimes when I make a meal that creates a gravy I have a 1/2 cup of gravy left over. I put this into the rice (either before or after cooking) and the rice is savory and delicious. I won’t go on and on about the different ways to make rice better but it occurred to me that most of these techniques could be used with oatmeal as well. Why, you ask? Well because oats are good for you, inexpensive and store reasonably well. Did I mention cook fast/easily too. I generally cook regular rolled oats for 1 mintue in the microwave. It comes out slightly chewy, which I like. Any good ideas?

  5. This post caused a flashback moment for me that brought a smile to my morning. Growing up, my dad would eat oatmeal topped with spinach every morning for breakfast. We called it his Popeye breakfast.

    Your idea of broth and mushrooms is very intriguing. Almost risotto like, might be worth a try.

  6. I strongly prefer a savory breakfast to a sweet breakfast, and so my oatmeal follows that rule. Generally I cook it with a little turmeric (excellent anti-inflammatory), stir in some homemade pepper sauce, and top with an egg cooked over easy.

  7. When I get tired of regular breakfast oatmeal (generally without sugar, but with cinammon), I top it with my favorite hot sauce. Buffalo chipotle is my favorite. Hot sauce on oatmeal is also particularly good when you are congested and can’t quite face the regular (let’s face it – mucousy) texture of oatmeal without cringing. The zip of the hot sauce clears you right out!

  8. I usually do okay at getting my taste buds on board with something unexpected or new- but this I would struggle with. I’ve never tried savory oatmeal- but when I was in China we had a traditional breakfast one morning where we were served rice porridge. I was expecting something sweet, or even bland- but not something full of meat and fish and very salty. I just couldn’t do it!

  9. My fave recipe for oatmeal involves onion, carrot, tamari, maybe curry powder and/or turmeric (lightly fried in olive oil first, before frying the onions, wakame seaweed, and tahini. Sometimes I cook in some collard greens or kale as well. The combination of tahini and tamari is awesome.

  10. Hm I’ve only really done the nori thing for rice porridge, just because that’s what I was raised on for breakfast. :P Dried shredded pork from the chinese market, boiled down rice (take your leftover rice and add more water to it – it’ll be the consistency of watery oatmeal). When it’s done, sprinkle the dried shredded pork (it also comes in fish, and beef), and use sheets of nori to scoop it up with chopsticks. This kind of breakfast goes well with a fried egg that has been lightly drizzled soy sauce onto, and all sorts of great pickled dishes such as kimchi, pickled cucumber, etc. Maybe you can try an oatmeal variation of it? :) What makes it work is that the rice is purposefully bland – the nori, dried pork, fried soy sauce egg and pickled goods are plenty salty on their own with great textures. It’s best to combine them at the table. Here’s a picture of the dried shredded stuff: http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:vgdYBnL_bjv7xM:http://www.oldmanmusings.com/Media/Food/PorkFu/PorkFu_splash.jpg&t=1

  11. I’m so pleased to be part of the weird oatmeal club. Who would have known you’re all out there, putting hot sauce and spinach and whatnot on your oatmeal. Maybe Quaker Instant should reconsider it’s flavor line???

    And yes, brose! And yes, Romans! And yes, all those Asian rice porridge sort of dishes! And yes, pottage!!! I’ve also been reading about pease pottage.

    Poor Erik has a future of sloppy dishes ahead of him. He likes to get cookbooks out of the library and try elaborate novelty foods, whereas I’m always wondering how much more primitively I can cook and eat. A cauldron of slop over the fire sounds like heaven to me.:)

  12. I must say that I agree with Erik. I just cannot imagine savory oatmeal. My stomach was heaving while reading all the comments. I use oats in other dishes, like meatloaf. I like oats, pinch of salt, sugar, and butter. Oh, add raisins to the bowl while cooking in the microwave. They are nice and plump then. Sugar and butter go in after cooking. A nice glass of milk, and I am in heaven.

  13. My first experience with non sweet oatmeal was trying out the “sour porridge” recipe from Sandor Katz’s book Wild Fermentation.
    It’s basically one part oat (steel cut, rolled, whatever) and two parts water, mixed up in a bowl and left to sit on the counter overnight or longer (it starts to develop a slight sour note after a day or two-I find it delicious and not at all overwhelming.) Put a cloth or plastic wrap over it while it’s sitting (soaking grains, especially oats, is an ancient practice; it makes them more digestible and releases the oat’s enzyme inhibitors, making the their nutrients more available to our bodies.) Proceed to cook them as usual- they’ll be done in a hurry thanks to the soak!
    Add some butter or olive oil, fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, or cilantro and finish with a sprinkle of dukkah (an Egyptian spice blend of toasted sesame, cumin, black pepper, hazelnuts, mint, and fennel) and now you’ve got the best savory oatmeal I’ve tried yet!

    Dukkah recipe: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001416.html

    Jessica from WA

  14. Jessica: How funny! Just yesterday I was talking to someone at a farmers market about dukkah, and wondering where to get a good recipe. So thanks! But yes, I’ve done Sandor’s sour oatmeal, too. I’m a big Sandor fan. I hadn’t thought of using that as my savory base, though. A good idea.

  15. I love savory oatmeal (but my friends and coworkers generally think it’s weird). I like my oatmeal with laver, soft boiled egg, and a little sauteed greens. A splash of tamari and a little hot sauce!

  16. I’ve been feeding my hens oat groats mixed with plain yoghurt and a heaping of shredded veg or fruit, whatever is laying around from the garden that needs using…typically carrot, zucchini, or apple. They fight for their place to the food bowl so I’ve had to set out several bowls so the mash doesn’t get flung far as much across their backs (humorous to watch them find and eat it from each other…thank god they are gentle hens). This article gives me inspiration to try different permutations of savory oats for all of us. Our flyfishing neighbor adds to our bounty with fresh local trout on occasion and methinks that may be good in one of the recipes posted above. Certainly worth a try!

    Everyone, have you tried oat groats? Takes 45 minutes to cook so a little patience is a key ingredient, but purportedly it’s higher in “good stuff” content.

  17. Hennypenny:

    I’d love to get my hands on some oat groats. 45 minutes is a while, but that’s no longer than steel cut oats, I believe. I like leftover cooked wholegrain, like spelt, for breakfast, too (or as a snack). The trick is remembering to cook it.

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