When you think of steel cut oats, what do you think of? Mushy porridge? Long, slow cooking time? Nothing, because you have no clue what I’m talking about?
Recently, steel cut, or Irish, oats have become all the rage. This has probably been helped along by the gluten-free craze, which I have very mixed feelings about, but this is certainly a benefit! Steel cut oats are the exact same thing as our familiar rolled oats, but instead of being pressed, the whole oat grains are sliced but otherwise left intact. (Quick/instant oats are both pressed and cut. And gross. But still healthy assuming they’re plain!)
Steel cut oats have all the same nutritional benefits of regular oats- high fiber, cholesterol-reducing powers, filling, and versatile. However, they have some different preparation methods and different uses. The texture is more like rice, while the flavor is nuttier. I think the added chew also gives added satiety- always a good thing when you’re rushing off to a long day of work!
Unlike rolled oats, steel cut oats can be made ahead of time in large batches and reheated (with a touch of milk) as needed, so they are the perfect thing to make on Sunday and eat all week long. So yes, they do take longer to make (though I never need as long a cooking time as is usually recommended), but then each subsequent serving only takes a minute of prep. I made a batch this week and did something a little different every day- today, I stirred in some peanut butter and topped with sliced banana. Between the fiber and protein, I didn’t get hungry for lunch for 5 hours!
But these oats are extremely similar to risotto, so why limit yourself to sweet toppings? I find that I make generally healthier choices througout the day when I start off with something savory rather than sugary, and steel cut oats are absolutely a vehicle for that. One day when I had a bit more than a minute to prepare breakfast, I stirred in a little salt, pepper, and Parmesan into my oats before reheating them, and then topped them with a fried egg and spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil- delicious! I love starting off my day knowing that I’ve already had a serving of vegetables!
So whether you think you hate oats or not, I encourage you to give steel cut oats a try. This recipe can be as allergen-free as you desire, depending on what you add. The oats are naturally gluten-free (though if you have celiac, I recommend purchasing oats that actually say gluten free, just in case of cross-contamination), and you can use coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, cow’s milk, etc. to play with vegan and dairy- and nut-free options. Top them with your favorite proteins and produce, and feel good about it for the rest of the day!
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup milk of your choice
- Dash salt
- Frozen berries, heated in the microwave
- Fresh fruit
- Nut butters or Nutella
- Brown sugar and cinnamon
- Pumpkin and spices
- Chia/flax/hemp seeds
- Dried fruit
- Yogurt/creme fraiche
- Chocolate chips/cocoa nibs/carob
- Citrus zest
- Applesauce/apple butter
- Savory toppings:
- Bacon crumbles
- Balsamic vinegar reduction
- Wilted greens
- Salad dressed with vinaigrette
- Shredded carrots or squash
- Carmelized onions
- Soy sauce
- Heat milk and water to boiling in a medium sauce pan.
- Melt butter in a skillet. Add oats and toss to toast for about 2 minutes (watch carefully!)
- Add oats to boiling liquid and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Portion into bowls, add mix-ins, and top as desired.
- Add a touch of milk and heat on the stove or in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until heated through.