Savory Oatmeal for Dinner!

Does this look like a bowl of oatmeal?  Well, it is!

Does this look like a bowl of oatmeal? Well, it is!

When I first came out with my savory oatmeal recipes, friends thought I was crazy.  Yeah – crazy like a fox.

The only reason people look at you like you have 35 heads when you serve oatmeal with ham and cheese is because it’s customary in the US to have it for breakfast – and to have it sweet.  Well, I don’t like it sweet.  And I don’t like it much plain.  Enter my plan to treat it like any other grain – which it is.

The one problem, if you can call it that, is the mushy texture.  No getting around that, but you can minimize it by using slow-cooking oats, and employing other ingredients that add some contrast. 

The two recipes I came up with may be modified to your liking (and I encourage that!), but the oatmeal served with assorted toppings is best cooked only with chicken stock, and the version that includes cheese needs some milk and butter.  Makes sense, since the latter should turn out creamy.  You can use water in place of stock, of course, but it’ll be less savory.  Use a good, organic, low-salt stock if you don’t make your own.  A cheap, salty stock will taste terrible in this dish, so just…don’t.

Avocados are looking beautiful now at Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods, Monterey Market and Raley’s, and I’ve even been able to get some decent tomatoes, so it’s a good time to try this frugal, healthy dish.  Just make sure to use high-quality, ripe fruit.  Don’t forget that avocados and tomatoes are both fruit!  Organic is best, if you can swing it.

I’ll give you the ham and cheese recipe, too, which you should try one rainy day.  It looks like you won’t have to wait until next winter for that, given the weather here in the Bay Area!

Don’t be put off.  My family loves this stuff.  My Mother-in-Law won’t eat it any other way, in fact.  You have to at least try it.

Oatmeal with Avocado, Tomato and Sea Salt
  
Serves at least 6 as a full meal

4 cups thick-cut oatmeal (not instant – the slowest cooking kind you can get)
2 quarts organic, low-salt, chicken stock
Pinch of salt
2 large, ripe, Hass avocados, cubed
2 large, ripe, good tomatoes, cubed
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Coarse sea salt

1)  Add oatmeal, pinch of salt, pepper and chicken stock to heavy guage dutch oven or similar vessel and stir to combine
2)  Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer
3)  Cover and cook to desired consistency, stirring often, especially when the mass starts to thicken (I cook for 20 minutes when using the really thick oats)
4)  Spoon into deep serving bowls
5)  Top with avocado, tomato and a couple cranks of sea salt

Note that I sometimes add cubed, leftover chicken breast before the avo and tomato, as in the photo, but this is optional.

Ham and cheese oatmeal

Ham & Cheese Oatmeal

Ham & Cheese Oatmeal
   Serves at least 6

4 cups thick-cut oatmeal (not instant – the slowest cooking kind you can get)
1 quart organic, low-salt, chicken stock
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 cups finely cubed cooked ham
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 1/2 – 2 cups aged (or extra sharp, at least) white Cheddar cheese in small cubes.  Use good, natural cheese! 

1)  Add oatmeal and all liquids to heavy guage dutch oven or similar vessel and stir to combine
2)  Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer
3)  Cover and cook to desired consistency, stirring often, especially when the mass starts to thicken (I cook for 20 minutes when using the really thick oats)
4)  Stir in pepper, butter and ham and allow to cook for another 30 seconds
5)  Remove from heat and stir in cheese, but do not mix it in too much because you want to wind up with pockets of melted cheese
6)  Cover and allow to sit for a couple of minutes
7)  Serve in deep bowls under a couple of over-easy eggs, if you want to be fancy about it

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7 Responses to Savory Oatmeal for Dinner!

  1. Deenie says:

    i have offtened eaten ham and oatmeal for breakfast, i have been laughed and told yuck oatmeal is a breakfast food what are you doing?

    myself i love the two flavours together i have not thought though to add cheese or pepper, i have however, added some brown sugan, nummy!

    So, for those of you out there who say yuck take a moment to realize the great possiblities of ham and oatmeal breakfast lunch or supper what a wonderful meal!
    Next i’m going to try bacon and oatmeal that should be impossibly great!

  2. Imran Jais lee says:

    I am a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic and a mild hypertension. And was told that oatmeal good for both those. Been eating oatmeal with milk and was wondering whether there was any other ways in eating oatmeal. Your recipes are the bomb. Thanks you:)

  3. Barbara Livieri says:

    I just found your website and I agree. I like savory oatmeal too! I make mine with leftover chicken and what ever veggies I have on hand. Today it was a diced tomato. Or if I have no chicken, I’ll add plain protein powder to it to bump up the protein. My boyfriend thought it looked gross. It was very tasty!

    • Renate Valencia says:

      Thanks for your comment, Barbara! I’ve been doing this so long my family is used to seeing oatmeal with just about everything at this point :-)

  4. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

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