Savory Oatmeal - It's What's for Dinner!

Well, just as I thought it was safe to call it Springtime, I wake up to the gloom of a dark and windy day that looks as though the apocalypse is surely on its way. Have I mentioned that Spring is my least favorite season? My poor sinuses are in limbo, with the pollen count and sunshine high one day only to have the temperatures plummet by a full 20 degrees the next. Add it to my absolute beyond readiness to see summer and the end of the academic semester, and I'm just over it. Give me heat, humidity, and a climatic reason to eat pounds of ice cream, already.

Unfortunately, my ice cream post from the other day is yet again a moot point, since even I don't want a big bowl of that cold stuff in front of me right now. No, today what this bipolar weather has me craving is comfort food - the stuff that will warm me up and make me forget about the allergies that are now so strong that even my new kick butt allergy medicine can't keep up. If any of you are experiencing similar Springtime ailments, I encourage you to make some Savory Oatmeal. It really is just about as down-home comfort as you can get, and I guarantee that as long as you have oats and a fridge that isn't completely barren, you can put together some version of this dish with absolute success.

I thought I was very original, thinking up this idea for savory oatmeal. It was only after I made it and raved to my little notepad about its wonders that I started seeing it pop up everywhere - likely in much more sophisticated, documented ways than my own haphazard approach. No bother, I'm sure they all taste delicious, as this one did on a cool evening much like this one is promising to be. It was warm and filling, with just the slightest hint of freshness from lemon juice that gives you a little hope that sunshine may, in fact, be on the way.

You can add whatever you'd like - vegetables, meat, beans, cheese, you name it! I stuck with some veggies and tomatillo sauce, and my only change (which will be reflected below) is the sheer quantity of food "one serving" wound up being. With all of the extra vegetables added, a recommended serving of oats wound up being overwhelming, so don't be afraid of the scant amount this recipe calls for. You will be plenty full, I promise.

Savory Oatmeal
Yield: 1 serving

The Ingredients
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 small onion, sliced
hot sauce, to taste
1/4 cup diced eggplant
1/3 cup chopped frozen broccoli
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 - 2/3 cups milk
3 leaves of fresh basil, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
1/4 (scant) teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 - 1/3 cup oats
fresh basil and salsa verde*, for serving

The Method
Brush the olive oil over a small-medium sauce pan to grease it, and add the onion along with the hot sauce, tossing to coat. Allow the onions to sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, dice the eggplant and place it in a strainer with salt in the sink for at least 10 minutes.* Caramelize the onions over medium heat, 5-7 minutes. Add the broccoli, eggplant, and garlic, sauteeing another 2-3 minutes while stirring occasionally. 

Pour in 1 cup of milk and bring (gently) to a simmer. Add in the basil, lemon peel, coriander, oregano, and oats. Cook for approximately five minutes or until the oats are done, and serve alongside the extra basil and salsa verde.

*I will post my attempt at this later on along with a different dish that I prepared, but I followed it closely enough that for now, feel free to head on over to the original post to see how it was done. I highly recommend it!
**This is to try to draw out some of the bitterness, and is best to do for closer to 30 minutes. However, I only did mine for 10 and can't really say that I detected any off flavors, though perhaps my palate is not as discerning as it could be.

By the way, this dish is the quintessential example of how miserably I fail at sticking to one "type" of cuisine. I can't just do oregano, basil and eggplant for an Italian-inspired dish, or salsa verde along with onions and peppers for a more Mexican-themed meal. I have to throw every spice and condiment on the face of the Earth together in one pot to create some unconventional hybrid of cultural eating. I apologize, but really, as much as it may seem to lack rhyme or reason, it does taste fantastic.

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