Before you turn your nose up at the idea of eating oatmeal for dinner (and in a savory fashion, no less), hear me out. Oats are grains, just like rice, barley, wheat, etc. and are incredibly versatile. Savory oatmeal actually looks and tastes a lot like risotto — and is much easier to make. And, it takes way less time and attention! Another great thing about savory oatmeal is that it's as easy to make for 1-2 people as it is for a big family. It's also a great meal idea after a day of skiing or playing in the snow!
I've been a big fan of oatmeal since I was a kid (though I traded instant oatmeal packets for rolled oats as an adult). I only tried making a savory version of my favorite breakfast food a few years ago, and I discovered that it was every bit as delicious as the banana and walnut oatmeal I was so used to eating. Though I still prefer "sweet" oatmeal in the morning, savory oats have become a go-to meal for dinner in my house. If I haven't won you over yet, take a look at this:
That's not your typical bowl of oatmeal, right?
Besides being a satisfying, nutritious meal, savory oatmeal is easy to make in a variety of ways. I've shared my favorite (basic) recipe below, but you can certainly add different spices to change the overall flavor. I like to make my oats in a rice cooker because I can just throw all of the ingredients in, shut the lid and walk away. If you don't have a rice cooker just use a medium to large pot (depending on how much you're making), keep the lid on and stir often. You can also easily make this recipe vegan by subbing out the dairy and meat products for vegan versions.
I also like to top my oatmeal with different foods, and there's nothing better than adding a fried egg and a few slices of avocado.
Other great topping ideas include grilled shrimp, salsa, tortilla chips, Greek yogurt or sour cream and (more) bacon.
Spinach + Mushroom Savory Oats (serves 2)
1 c rolled (slow-cooking) oats (not instant oats)
2 c water
1/4 cup whole milk
2 T grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup fresh spinach
1 TBSP butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
dash of cayenne pepper
salt + pepper to taste
2 pieces (cooked) bacon, chopped into small pieces
Combine all ingredients (except bacon) into a rice cooker and cook for 15 minutes, stirring a few times in between. If you don't have a rice cooker, combine all ingredients in a medium-size pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring often. Add in bacon and stir. Divide into two bowls and top with whatever you'd like.