I first came across the idea of savory oatmeal via photographer Penny De Los Santos. On her blog Appetite, she posted a gorgeous photo and instructions for making "Sexed Up Savory Oatmeal." She recommended using steel cut or rolled oats and topping them with olive oil, flaky sea salt, cracked pepper and aged sharp cheddar and had other suggestions as well, such as using Parmigiano Reggiano, an egg, or sauteed vegetables as toppings.
The idea for savory oatmeal has been floating around for quite some time with discussions on Chowhound going back to 2006. Over at The Kitchn there is a savory oatmeal recipe with grapes, walnuts and gorgonzola. And at the blog Tea & Cookies, you'll find a recipe for Curried Oatmeal with Caramelized Onions.
I tried my own version with aged Gouda, extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. It was delicious! Perhaps because I make my oatmeal with a pinch of salt, I didn't find that it needed any extra salt as a topping. I also tried a version with a pinch of truffle salt and butter that gave me the idea to try sauteed chanterelle mushrooms as a topping. It was amazing, a bit like creamy mushroom risotto. I also tried some steel cut Irish oats with diced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes and bacon bits. Finally I tried the Mark Bittman suggestion of soy sauce and scallions but it was too salty and I didn't like it very much.
My mind is reeling with all the possibilities. Savory oatmeal could be the perfect excuse to save those last few tablespoons of stew or sauce or gravy from dinner...
Here are my thoughts of combinations to try:
* Chopped ham and shredded cheddar
* Wilted arugula and extra virgin olive oil
* Marinara sauce and grated Parmigiano Reggiano
* Sauteed mushrooms and Gruyere cheese
* Sauteed sausage and onions
* Shredded roast chicken and roasted or sauteed leeks
* Diced avocado and salsa verde
* Diced tomatoes and feta
For a little moisture, instead of the traditional milk you could try the aforementioned olive oil, chicken broth or butter.
Have you tried savory oatmeal? What combinations appeal to you?
By Amy Sherman
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