I’ve eaten plenty of oatmeal in my day. Until very recently, I couldn’t imagine there was a tastier way to enjoy it than with a nice pat of organic butter and some brown sugar. You know how the butter melts in and mixes with the slightly chunky brown sugar? And how it transforms the virtuous oatmeal into something a little rich and decadent? Well, I just love that.
Sometimes I add fruit, and sometimes I add nuts. Sometimes I add some raw milk or cream and sometimes I go with maple syrup instead of brown sugar. No matter what goes on top of my oatmeal, though, it’s always been pretty sweet: even though I try to minimize all sugars in my diet, it just never occurred to me to eat savory oatmeal.
But then I tried it. And I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
Have you been there yet? To the land of savory oatmeal? Give it a go. I think you’ll love it.
Though there is a hint of sweetness here in the form of the dried figs (they play so nicely with the salty feta and the oily pine nuts, after all), you can feel free to use fresh figs or leave them out altogether. I used thick rolled oats, but you can make this recipe with steel-cut oats, if you prefer (keep in mind you’ll need to cook them longer, about 30 minutes). Be sure to use gluten-free oats if you follow a gluten-free diet.
Oats are high in fiber, magnesium, and the spectrum of B-vitamins, but like most grains, they contain naturally occurring compounds (phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors) that can make them difficult to digest and bind up some of their nutrients. For this reason, it’s a good idea to soak the oats in a mildly acidic liquid (such as water mixed with a little yogurt or lemon juice) before cooking in order to maximize their “digestibility” and to make sure you derive the benefits of the nutrients they contain. When I remember, I do soak my oats in the refrigerator overnight. The oats absorb a lot of the water, so I add more before cooking them in the morning.
Oatmeal with Figs, Pine Nuts and Feta Cheese
Inspired by Penny De Los Santos' Sexed Up Savory Oatmeal
*2 cups water
*1 cup organic thick rolled oats
*6 dried calmyra figs, diced
*2 tablespoons pine nuts, raw or lightly toasted in a dry skillet
*1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, or more to taste
*extra virgin olive oil- to taste
*fresh ground pepper (I used a mixture of black and pink peppercorns that I ground coarsely in a mortar and pestle)- to taste
1. Combine water with oats and figs in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water is just about absorbed (about 5 minutes). Allow to cool slightly
2. Spoon the oatmeal into serving bowls and top with the pine nuts and feta cheese. Drizzle in some olive oil and top with the black pepper.
More savory oatmeal:
Savory Oatmeal with Gorgonzola and Walnuts from The Kitchn
Steel Cut Oats with Caramelized Onions and Ricotta from In Jennie’s Kitchen
Mark Bittman’s Savory Oatmeal with Scallions and Soy Sauce