Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Savory Steel-Cut Oatmeal With Sesame and Scallions

We are definitely in oatmeal territory here in New York.  There is a serious cold snap happening yet again, making it perfect weather to be cozy inside while catching up on episodes of “Downton Abbey” and “Boardwalk Empire”.  It’s impossible for me to watch these favorite shows without craving some kind of winter comfort food to enjoy along with the new episodes, though I’m trying hard to avoid inhaling large quantities of cheesy pasta or roasted potatoes these days.  Since I don’t have the patience for a slow-simmering soup, Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Sesame and Scallions really fits the bill these days.  Healthful yet satisfying, it comes together quickly and is ready for its close-up. 

I love how oatmeal acts as a catchall for a wide variety of toppings.  My family has been known to top their breakfast oatmeal with any combination of brown sugar, bananas, berries, dried fruit, toasted nuts, protein powder, wheat germ—you name it.

For years I’d regarded oatmeal as strictly morning food, but I was happily surprised to discover that my beloved steel-cut Irish oatmeal is a versatile backdrop for savory ingredients as well.  I wrote that post about the joys of savory oatmeal more than two years ago, and since then I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve topped my nutty Irish oats with salty shards of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of liquid gold olive oil. 

But sometimes I need to mix it up, and lately I’ve been going for a soy-and-sesame flavor profile.  The tamari soy sauce and toasted sesame oil create unexpected layers of flavor when stirred into the cooked oats, while scallions add bite and a welcome pop of color. I sometimes add a few toasted sesame seeds if I have them on hand, as I like the way they add crunch while highlighting the sesame notes of the oatmeal in a different octave.

Traditional Irish oatmeal can take up to 30 minutes to cook, but lately I’ve been buying the McCann’s quick-cooking oats.  By the time I’ve sliced the scallions and pulled bottles of sesame oil and tamari from the fridge, I am rewarded with a steaming bowl of nutty goodness after just 5 minutes of cooking, leaving me with more time to catch up on all the high drama at both the Downton estate and the Prohibition-era Atlantic City boardwalk.  It’s the perfect dish to make when there are so many compelling episodes to watch, yet there's never enough time…

One Year Ago: Killer Chocolate Sauce
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Malt Ice Cream
Three Years Ago: Ruby Port Cocktail
I use the McCann’s Quick&Easy Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal.  I love how the sturdy texture of Irish steel-cut oats stands up to bold flavors, even the quick-cooking oats. Let your taste buds guide you as you add the soy and sesame, for you may prefer yours saltier or less so than I do, with more scallions or fewer than what I’ve suggested.

For each serving:
1 cup water
1/3 cup quick-cooking steel-cut oats
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons toasted dark sesame oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions, both white and green parts
Toasted sesame seeds, optional

Cook the steel-cut oats according to the package directions. 

Spoon the cooked oatmeal into a bowl.  Stir in the soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil, adding more to taste if needed.  Top with a good grind of pepper, the sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, if using.  Enjoy immediately.


Kim V said...

Oh my goodness, this looks unbelievable. It's freezing here too! X

Anonymous said...

Wow who knew?! Savory Oatmeal.. Gotta try it now.
Great photos btw!!