Oats: They’re What’s for Dinner

“Wild oats will get sown some time, and one of the arts of life is to sow them at the right time.” — The Quest of the Golden Girl, Richard Le Gallienne

I want to sow my oats and eat them too — at the right time, of course. But in my opinion, there really is no wrong time to eat oats. I have a big bowl of (steel-cut) oats pretty much every morning for breakfast (with banana, blueberries, or pumpkin), and I often have a little bowl of oat (bran) for a nighttime snack (plain, or with a little peanut butter and maple syrup). Tonight, I went oat wild and had a bowl of oat (groats) for dinner, too.

I’ll admit that “oat groats,” which are whole oats, don’t sound all that appetizing (unless maybe you’re a goat) — but they’re similar in appearance, texture, and taste to barley, which most people are familiar with (at least, in beer form).

I started out making the oats as a side dish to go with some steamed broccoli and sauteed mushrooms. But I ended up making an oat groat risotto, and it was YUM. Typically risotto is made with white arborio rice. But if you want a whole-grain risotto, barley is a good alternative. And partway through cooking the oat groats, I realized that they would be a good alternative too.

This is kind of a cheater’s risotto, in that I didn’t follow the usual technique of slaving over the stove, adding broth a half-cupful at a time and stirring constantly for an hour. I like to let my food cook itself as much as possible. My food thanked me for not hovering by turning out yummy.

great groats

Whole Oat Groat Risotto
Makes 2 servings

[1] Put 1/2 c. oat groats and 1 1/2 c. vegetable broth in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 1 hour.
[2] Add a handful of frozen peas (I had some leftover, cooked, in the fridge) and a handful of frozen corn. Then, add about 1/2 c. liquid. (I had just steamed some broccoli, so I used the “green water” from that.)
[3] Turn up the heat to bring the mixture back to a boil, then simmer on low, uncovered, stirring frequently, till it’s steamy hot and creamy textured.
[4] Stir in about 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese. Add a few grinds of black pepper. (My vegetable broth is pretty salty, so I didn’t add any more salt.)
[5] Stir in a bunch of quartered brown mushrooms that have been sauteed in olive oil. (I had made these as a separate dish and then thought, why not throw them in? Sometimes I’m crazy like that.)
[6] Sprinkle with a handful of chopped fresh parsley.

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