Meatless Monday: Savory Oatmeal

Inspired by the Weekday Vegetarian movement to reduce meat consumption because of its well-documented impact on the environment, Footprint introduces a Meatless Monday series with creative and meat-free recipes to get you inspired. This week’s meal idea is savory oatmeal.

It’s hard to beat oatmeal when it comes to inexpensive and easy breakfasts. It’s surprisingly packed with protein, goes great with a few pinches of brown sugar and cooks in just minutes. But taking oats from breakfast to dinner is as easy as a switch from sweet to savory.

OK, it probably sounds weird. Think about it, though: relatively tasteless on their own, oats will absorb the flavors of whatever is put into them, like the tofu of the grain world. It just so happens we tend to think of brown sugar and blueberries as the essential oatmeal fixings instead of, say, Parmesan cheese, pasta sauce and fresh basil. Spaghetti oatmeal is a reality, people – and it’s tasty.

While this Meatless Monday recipe will focus on the relatively easy “spaghetti oatmeal,” here’s a quick rundown on some other ways to shake up your next bowl of oats.

Try it with:

– A sunny-side up egg, cubed cooked potatoes, cilantro and red or green salsa
– Diced tomatoes, sautéed onions, cooked spinach and a favorite cheese
– Chopped scallions, steamed broccoli and cheddar cheese

(As cheese is also a harsh on the environment, you might choose to make a dairy-free cheese-like sauce out of the vegetarian staple nutritional yeast. Recipes abound online!)

A great way to get acquainted with savory oatmeal (and my personal favorite) is to simply add Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, freshly chopped basil and a few scoops of any pasta sauce – especially one straight from The Hill in St. Louis and available at Root Cellar.

On the stovetop:

2 cups water
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup pasta sauce
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Any amount of chopped basil leaves to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

– Chop a desired amount of basil leaves and set aside
– Bring 2 cups* water to a boil in a small to medium saucepan
– Add in 1 cup rolled oats
– Reduce heat to medium
– Let cook for 1-2 minutes or until oats are soft, stir occasionally

Once oats are cooked, keep the heat at medium and add additional
ingredients, stirring until pasta sauce is warm and cheese is melted;
top with salt and pepper to taste

The last step? Pour it all in a big bowl for a hearty, healthy dinner!

* The water to oats ratio is usually 2:1, but you can add or reduce
water amount for a soupier or sturdier bowl of oatmeal.

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