Friday, September 23, 2011

Savory Dinner Oatmeal with Mushrooms & Herbs

For those of you who started reading this blog before I entered my current existence as a solo-living, studio-apartment-dwelling graduate student, I'm sure you've noticed a trend in the posts I've made since. Generally it's simple, easy, and basically-healthy comfort food that appeals to the cook in me these days, and since it's a gross rainy day here in Philly (and, okay, I'm a little depressed at the prospect of not seeing Brady for another five weeks), I surely was not about to deviate from this theme tonight. So in the spirit of semi-wallowing in my school readings and Netflix reruns, I thought I'd take a stab at using a super basic whole grain as the base for this vegan main dish. If this idea seems a little weird to you, keep an eye out for my mushroom barley risotto, coming soon. It combines very similar flavors but bypasses any potential is-this-breakfast-or-dinner confusion.

1/4 large white or yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 zucchini, sliced
2 tsp Italian herb mix
1 cup rolled oats - not instant or "quick-cooking"
About 3/4 cup water or vegetable broth
1 small clove garlic, smashed
Fresh parsley, diced avocado, or toasted pine nuts, for sprinkling (optional)
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

1. In a medium saucepan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Saute mushrooms until they release their juices, and the juices evaporate. Add garlic and onions and cook until softened before adding zucchini. Saute for about 1 minute then salt (generously if you're using water, less generously if you're using veggie broth), add a drizzle of water (a few teaspoons) and stir. Cover to cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are very soft.
2. Add oats, pepper and herbs. Stir, and gradually add about 3/4 cup water or vegetable broth. (You may use slightly more or less, but add it gradually so you know if it's getting too liquidy). Turn heat to low and cover to cook for a few minutes until oats are well softened. (I also added a dash of ground sage, dried marjoram and dried thyme just for fun).
3. Serve sprinkled with diced avocado, fresh herbs or pine nuts.

I won't act like this is my favorite thing ever, but it is somewhere between "not bad" and "pretty good, actually." So I'm not gonna hate on it. Just like for breakfast, oatmeal for dinner is low-glycemic, filling and heart-healthy, and with all the herbs and veggies, it ends up more like a thick risotto than "oatmeal" per se, which is probably the best outcome that I could expect.

Quote of the Day: One of life's best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you've got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference. ~ Robert Fulghum

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