Contrary to the impression you might get by reading this blog, I am not really a sweets person. I believe they have a time and a place– mostly after dinner or random afternoon cravings– but usually I go for savory foods.
Because of my whole egg thing, it’s really hard for me to find savory breakfasts when I go out. Sometimes I can order savory dishes and just sub out the eggs for something else, but more often than not I end up ordering sweet breakfasts and being disappointed with the whole experience. As a result, breakfast is my least favorite meal. In fact, as a kid, I would usually eat leftovers for breakfast and call it a day. But now that I eat breakfast at work, eating leftovers just earns me strange looks.
Enter savory oatmeal, the savior of breakfasts.
Everyone I’ve spoken to about savory oatmeal has been surprised. “You can do that??” they say, forgetting that oats are just a grain-canvas for flavor to be painted onto. “But I’ve only ever eaten sweet oatmeal!”
Well, yeah. That’s why I’m here to spread the savory oatmeal gospel. It’s almost like eating leftovers, but it’s still breakfast-appropriate. And, even better, it’s equally delicious fresh off the stove or made ahead of time.
I’m serious about the whole blank-flavor-canvas thing. If you can dream it, you can do it. My first savory oatmeal was flavored with thyme, and since then I’ve done countless variations: cheesy with olives, vegetable and sausage, etc. I’ll likely post more recipes in the future. But if you’re adventurous, go make this oatmeal your own!
For now, enjoy this recipe. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Spicy Oatmeal with Pepitas and Scallions
This oatmeal is perfect for the savory breakfast aficionado and very, very adaptable. Want it to be milder? Add less spice. Don’t have gochugaru? Use crushed red pepper instead (though, as a heads up, it will have a different color and you should overall add less of it!). Like I said, the world is your oyster and this oatmeal was meant to be modified!
This recipe makes one serving of oatmeal, but is very scalable. In fact, I usually make a few servings at once and eat it throughout the week.
As a note, I might collect a small profit from some of the links in this post– thank you in advance for your support!
1/4 cup traditional steel-cut oats
1 cup chicken broth (I generally use Better Than Bouillon)*
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Korean chile flakes (gochugaru)**
1 scallion, sliced
Pepitas for garnish
Add olive oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) to a small pot over medium heat. When it’s hot– you’ll see it rippling and it will become less viscous– add the chopped red onions and sautée until the onions start to brown. Then, add the dry oatmeal and gochugaru. Toast both, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes.
Add the chicken broth carefully; depending on the size of your pot, it may boil or spatter! If you’re using Better than Bouillon, add only the water to the pot at this point.
Bring the heat to high so the water comes to a boil more quickly. If using Better than Bouillon, add it once the water starts to bubble. When the oatmeal has come to a full boil, turn the heat down to low and bring the water down to a simmer. Cover the pot.
Let the oatmeal sit at a simmer for 15-30 minutes. I like my oats to be cooked al dente so I am always on the lower side of this range. However, if you like your oats to be smoother, taste them after 20 and leave them simmering if they need more time.
When they’re cooked to your liking, turn off the heat. You can either serve immediately (watch out– they’re hot!) or let them sit for a few minutes to firm up before serving. They’ll also keep for about a week in the fridge. As a tip, I only use glass to store oats since I don’t want the heat to warp my plastic containers or leach any chemicals from them.
To serve, garnish with pepitas and chopped scallions. Enjoy!
*Better than Bouillon is seriously a lifesaver. I am somehow never able to get through a container of chicken broth without it going bad, but Better than Bouillon basically doesn’t go bad and saves me every time. Plus it’s perfect in stuff like this, where chicken broth isn’t the star but you still need that meaty taste. They aren’t sponsoring me or anything. I just love this product.
**This is almost always available in Asian grocery stores, and is also available in some standard grocery stores near me in NYC. If you don’t have it available, you can order it on Amazon or substitute it for red pepper flakes to taste.