Oatmeal is always a popular favorite for breakfast, but you're probably familiar with the usual suspects of dried cranberries, slivered almonds, and a splash of maple syrup. Oatmeal as a sweetened dish can present a variety of combinations, all of which can be delicious, but the reality is that this versatile grain is largely undervalued. For those who were raised in the South, the treatment of oatmeal should be best likened to grits. Think of its traditional applications as a hearty base that is topped with a variety of vegetables, proteins, and legumes.
Pictured above you'll find my latest take on savory oatmeal, which was thrown together with the remnants in my fridge and pantry. I made a cheesy oatmeal topped with wilted kale and a medley of other veggies. If I had any more eggs left, you can bet a soft-boiled one would have made its way into my bowl as well. And just as with its sweet counterpart, savory oatmeal has endless pairings. Think of a spicy jambalaya or maybe a Buddha bowl complete with avocado and roasted chunks of sweet potato. The goal here, ultimately, is to remove the stigma of oatmeal as merely being kin to cereal. After all, there is no reason not to take advantage of one of the most nutritious grains out there. Oatmeal has a higher protein and fat content than most other grains and a healthy amount of fiber as well. If you want to start repurposing your pantry staple, you can start with the recipe for these cheesy grits with wilted greens.
Cheesy Oatmeal with Kale and Veggies
Perhaps the most important part of preparing savory oatmeal, as with any grain, is properly salting the water in which it cooks in. When you're cooking pasta, they say you should always taste your water first and that it should be as salty as the sea. It's a beautiful saying, and it's definitely true. Because under-salting your oatmeal can leave you with a gummy, bland mess, and then you will feel betrayed. Depending on what type of oats you have, you may want to put them on first, or even make it your final step. If you have steel-cut oats, go ahead and get your pot started with your oats, salt, and water before you start frying up your veggies.
In a separate pan, fry up your garlic and onion briefly before adding in your tomato. The tomato, as it cooks, should simmer in all its juices and become this brothy liquid that coats all of the other vegetables. Then quickly add your kale, cabbage, carrot, and broccoli. At this stage, you can season your veggies as they cook with the cumin, pepper flake, salt, and pepper. You can cook the crap out of your kale, as you would do with spinach in say, a saag paneer, or you can leave it wilted as I chose to do. Once your vegetables are hot and your oatmeal has cooked down, sprinkle in your cheese to the pot and stir. Add your cheesy oatmeal to the bottom of a bowl and top with your vegetable medley and enjoy! Good luck and happy cooking.
I'm Lisa Cecilia Garcia. I'm a freelance writer specializing in food and lifestyle but have experience in poetry, creative writing, and everything in between. I'm a recent college graduate residing in Valdosta, GA. I love sketching, running, and obviously cooking and eating. When I'm older, I plan to run away to the mountains.