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Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples -- or your seasonal produce -- every which way.
If there is one thing that you can always find in my kitchen, it’s oatmeal. I had this strange fridge-free period in my life that lasted for almost a year, during which I learned to buy everything fresh and in small quantities. But, in every crisis situation, oats were immensely helpful. Of course oats are perfect for a morning porridge, but they can also be a fast snack, a sweet treat, or something more substantial -- even my lunches include them from time to time. Oats are the base for some truly delicious recipes, plus they’re not dependent on the seasons: Keep them on hand and experiment with adding seasonal ingredients all year long. From muesli to granola to savory porridge with poached eggs, I'm going to show five of my favorite -- and most creative -- ways to use oats.
On a busy morning when you only have 5 minutes to grab a bite to eat, bircher muesli is the perfect breakfast. The big advantage of this recipe is that you prepare everything the evening before, and the whole process takes only a few minutes. Put oats into a bowl, add grated apple, and pour in juice. In the morning simply add your favorite fruits, a spoonful of yogurt, maybe some nuts or honey, and you’re ready to go. It’s also easy to take this breakfast with you in a jar or a small container.
More: Not sure what type of oats to buy? Here's a primer on oats in their many forms.
Oats with Bananas and Strawberries Baked in a Hazelnut Chai Milk
Baked oats have an amazing texture and flavor, and when you mix them with hazelnut and coconut milk and add roasted strawberries, nuts, and bananas, you’ll have a unique meal. In my home, these baked oats disappear as soon as they’re out of the oven, and one bowlful is never enough.
Oatmeal Shake with Red Currants
During a hot summer, when you feel like eating light, refreshing foods, a cold oat shake is the best start to the day. Blend together oats, currants (or any other fruit you like), almond milk, honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon for a filling drink.
There’s no better granola than a homemade one, the whole beauty being that you can add whatever you like. Grab a big bowl and mix oats, nuts, coconut flakes, agave syrup, coconut oil, and cocoa powder to start -- and don’t forget about chopped dark chocolate, too. Chocolate makes us happy, so why not eat it in the morning?
More: Leftover coconut oil? Put it to use in a Vegan Peach Crumble Coffee Cake.
Savory Oatmeal with Ham, Poached Egg, and Hollandaise Sauce
Porridge with sweet additions like fruit or spoonfuls of jam isn’t a new concept, but savory oatmeal is something most people haven’t tried. You can serve it with your favorite vegetables, and you can also add ham, poached eggs, and condiments like pesto or hollandaise sauce. It’s very filling, and it offers a nice change of pace from a regular sandwich or eggs on toast.
For the hollandaise sauce:
grams (about 14 tablespoons) butter
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
For the porridge:
2 cups water
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1 tablespoon green pesto
1 tablespoon Parmesan or cheddar cheese
4 slices of ham
1 pinch cayenne pepper
First photo by James Ransom, all others by Marta Greber