Are you nursing a St. Patty’s hangover today? Or are you just tired from a long week and relieved/overjoyed that it’s Friday? Either way, I’ve got just the thing for you: a bowl of complete comfort.
So, here’s the thing. I am, by no means, a picky eater. I like most things. Even if I’m on the fence about something, I’ll at least TRY it before deciding I don’t like it (or love it). I am pretty easy to please in the food department. BUT the few things that I dislike, I really, really, REALLY dislike them. And it totally bums me out.
Mushrooms top the list of dislikes for me. I’ve had them prepared at restaurants a handful of times and have been able to somewhat tolerate them, but overall, the smell, texture, and taste all make me want to hurl. Totally a bummer, though! Mushrooms are like culinary gold these days. Everyone uses them. Everyone cherishes them. Me? I’m barely able to get a whiff. It sucks.
Another strong dislike of mine? Oatmeal. Unless it’s in a cookie or as part of a granola mix, I have never been a fan of the taste or texture of oatmeal. I even tried overnight oats back when they were first trending, in the hopes that maybe eating oatmeal chilled would be my answer. Nope. Totally did NOT work.
I grew up with everyone around me eating and loving their morning oatmeal. I would opt for the Eggos or a bowl of Cheerios because the smell and taste of hot oatmeal put my gag reflex in motion. Even when doused with maple syrup and brown sugar! Totally doesn’t make sense, right? Truth is, I craved the comfort of a hot breakfast and was rather bitter that my tastebuds just weren’t having it. You really can’t compare the comfort effect of oatmeal to a bowl of cold cereal. No contest.
Today, as an adult, I wish that I liked oatmeal so badly! It’s healthy! And easy! And keeps you full for hours (or so they tell me. I wouldn’t know). All things desirable for my breakfasts these days. But alas, despite my many attempts at making it palatable, I just CANNOT do it.
Savory oatmeal has been a “thing” for a little while now, and when I first heard about the trend, I was, of course, skeptical. But intrigued! I thought, hey, maybe this is the version of oatmeal I’ll actually enjoy. It’s taken me months to actually make it, but I am so glad that I did! I LIKE THIS BOWL OF OATMEAL. I can hardly believe it.
The oatmeal itself is hot and cheesy (obviously a win in the yum category), and the actual “oat-y” flavor (which is my biggest beef with hot oatmeal) is toned down substantially. It’s still there, for sure, so for all you oat-lovers, don’t fret. It’s just more subtle than your traditional bowl of oatmeal, which is perfect for me. To ensure that I had enough varying textures to keep me interested (and to keep the gag reflex at bay), I topped my bowl with some sautéed garlicky greens, crispy bacon, and OF COURSE a runny-yolked fried egg. All good decisions. To up the ante just a touch, I drizzled on some toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds for crunch, and they may be my favorite additions (aside from that egg). Much to my surprise, I was L-O-V-I-N-G this bowl of oatmeal. I think I’m still in shock a few weeks later.
For the greens, I used Swiss chard, probably my favorite winter green. There’s just so much TEXTURE with Swiss chard, and it’s gorgeous to boot. I cooked it in the same pot used to crisp the bacon, just to ensure I had enough bacon-y goodness to counteract the oatmeal flavor. The greens and bacon paired perfectly with all the sharp cheddar in the oatmeal. And the egg, well, I don’t have to say much about that, do I? The silkiness of that runny yolk just took the whole thing to another level.
This oatmeal, for the record, would be great any time of day. I could easily see myself eating this for breakfast on a weekend, or for dinner on a busy weeknight. It’s super fast and easy to put together, and it’s out-of-this-world comforting. Finally! I get to enjoy the comforts of hot oatmeal. Don’t underestimate how excited this makes me.
Turns out that cheese and bacon really DO make everything better. Maybe I should apply that logic to mushrooms? Hmm. We’ll see. One step at a time.
That yolk. Swoon.
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced, grated, or pressed
2 bunches Swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Eggs, fried or poached to desired doneness
Toasted sesame seeds
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Season with a pinch of salt and then add in the oats. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the oats are cooked and the mixture is creamy.
Stir in the shredded cheese and season with pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.
In a large skillet, crisp the bacon until rendered. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside for garnish.
Remove the pan from the heat for a few minutes and then add in the garlic. Return the pan to medium-low heat, so as not to burn the garlic. Cook garlic for about a minute, stirring constantly.
Add in the greens and red pepper flakes, tossing them evenly in the garlic and oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the greens are softened and wilted but still have texture.
Season, to taste, with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Spoon oatmeal into serving bowls and top with the greens, reserved crispy bacon, and other desired toppings. I like a runny egg, scallions, hot sauce, another drizzle of sesame oil, and some toasted sesame seeds for crunch. Serve immediately.