We often had oatmeal for breakfast when I was a kid, and my mother would call up the stairs “sweet or savory?”, which meant we were supposed to choose which we wanted that day. We weren’t allowed both. Sweet meant milk, or cream (or both), with maple syrup, and sometimes fruit, raisins, cinnamon, etc. Pretty standard stuff. Savory, on the other hand, meant olive oil, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and an egg. So, sweet or savory? A difficult call on any day, and I still go back-and-forth.
If wheat can work equally well in sweet or savory foods, why not other grains? In fact, most of them can. Oats are almost always eaten with brown sugar or maple syrup, maybe with some fruit and diary, or in sweet goods, (think cookies, crumbles). But I’m here to testify that, like wheat, oats are great savory too.
A word about nutritional yeast… Nutritional yeast is sort of a magic seasoning that makes everything taste more savory and rich, no matter how horrifyingly healthy hippies make it sound. Because it is so good for you, hippies totally misuse the stuff, putting in things like smoothies (gag), contributing to it’s bad reputation. Suffice it to say, despite it’s ill repute, and name, the reason I put it on food is to make it taste better.
Oats are the grain of the grass Avena sativa and became widespread in northern Europe by the 1600s. The English mocked the Scots for eating it, since in England, it was only used to feed horses. Even today, 95% of all oats are fed to livestock. I think horses prefer sweet. Today, you can generally buy oats in the store as instant (never buy instant oats), rolled (sometimes called “quick”), steel cut, and “Irish”, which are just a more finely chopped version of steel cut. I like rolled and steel cut equally, though people who really love oats think anyone who likes rolled is some sort of heathen, who might as well just trot down to McDonald’s for a sausage biscuit, a side of lard, and maybe a cigarette. Real aficionados prefer steel cut. Whatevs. However, I do rain scorn upon people who eat instant oats. So what are rolled oats? Steamed whole oat grains, rolled between steel rollers. Just that simple. “Instant” are the same, but rolled very thin. Steel cut are steamed then chopped, rather than rolled.
A word about eggs…. Please cook your eggs slower, and at lower temperatures. Thank you.
Savory Oatmeal with an Egg
A childhood recipe
- 1 cup oats
- One egg. Don’t be cheap, get good eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- tamari (or any good soy sauce)
- nutritional yeast
I’m not going to tell you how to boil oats. Sheesh. For the egg, melt a little butter in a pan, over lowish heat. You want a bare sizzle, then add the egg, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook it slow, and rescue it while the yolk is still runny. The slower and lower you cook it, the more delicate it will be. I like to put a tablespoon of water in the pan, and cover it, for a fried/poached hybrid. Plate the oatmeal, spreading it into a flat disk, plop the egg on there, then drizzle good olive oil, soy sauce, and a sprinkle of nutruitional yeast on top of the whole thing. Be generous with all three toppings, oats are pretty bland, and you need more oil, soy sauce and yeast than you think.
Bonus ideas for toppings: dollops of sriracha, torn strips of nori, leftover cold salmon, kimchee.