Breakfast – for some people it’s as easy as opening a box of cereal and pouring on the milk. For me, it’s never been that simple. For all you cereal lovers out there, I’m sorry, but I just can’t stand cold cereal. It was the breakfast of choice for my busy parents to feed us as kids, but somewhere on the way to growing up, I liked it less and less until it reached the point that I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I decided to rebel.
My father and I always enjoyed something else for breakfast on the weekends after watching Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, our favorite cartoon. Breakfast might be Pop Tarts, or toast with peanut butter or Cheese Whiz. It was NEVER cereal. So, that fateful morning I told my mother I was not going to eat cereal, that I wanted something else for breakfast instead. The answer was not what I wanted to hear: my mother told me I would sit at that table until I finished my cereal, “or else.” Well, my dislike for cereal was certainly stronger than my desire to go to school. Duh! So hours later, well after school had started, there I sat in front of a bowl of really soggy cereal. I never ate cold cereal again.
These days I’m always on the lookout for decent dishes to make for breakfast that are relatively healthy and don’t take a ton of work. I still dislike cold cereal, but have gradually started to add hot cereal or grain bowls to my breakfast selections. I’ve always been more about savory than sweet, and breakfast is no different. So when I came across a recipe for savory oatmeal, I had to try it.
This oatmeal is delicious. It really tastes more like a rice bowl than oatmeal. I made it even more so by adding some soy sauce and a splash of Siracha sauce. Yes, I’m weird that way.
Savory Oatmeal with Kale and Mushrooms
The only drawback to this dish is that steel cut oats take a little time to cook. I made this the day before I planned to eat it and it warmed up in the microwave just fine. Oats are supposedly easier to digest if they are soaked even for a short time before cooking them, if not overnight. I soaked them for the time it took me to chop and sauté the vegetables. Place the oats in a bowl, cover with water, add a tablespoon of cider vinegar and soak for the length of time you have available, up to over night. Gomasio is a dry Asian condiment made of sesame seeds, seaweed, and salt. You can substitute sesame seeds of you don’t have it.
1 cup steel cut oats
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, stems stripped and discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded, caps sliced
1/3 cup walnut pieces, toasted
Gomasio or sesame seeds for sprinkling
Place the oats in a large saucepan (preferably non-stick) with 4 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Add the kale and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté 6–8 minutes, until tender.
Divide the oats between four bowls. Top with the sautéed vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with toasted walnuts and sprinkle with Gomasio.
Adapted from Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman
Props used in the photos courtesy of Brian & Herma Leak