The genius behind the word "brunch" has not manifested itself for another, equally satisfying and even more extreme meal hybrid: breakfast+dinner. And yet the possibilities of combining the most important meal of the day with American culture's most popular and social meal are endless, and easy to recreate in your kitchen. For some (myself included), though, the idea of having a more substantial, often sweeter breakfast item (think pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc.) for dinner doesn't quite mentally jive (dessert, though, is a whole other story).
Enter the savory oat. The breakfast food you grew up on, and maybe thought of as a putty-colored, flavorless mush, is quickly transformed into a bright, filling, and all-around awesome meal with the simple substitution of the add-ins. Think of the oats as your canvas and the veggies and spices you toss in as your Jackson-Pollack moment.
What's great about using steel cut oats over traditional rolled oats is all the nutrition they pack, adding to the argument for their worthiness on the dinner table. In their un-rolled form, these oats retain their fibrous outer coating and thus keep you fuller longer (an argument here, too, for eating them for breakfast...). Plus--and this is the real eye-opener--oats are naturally gluten-free. The protein that those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance is not present in oats, although contamination may occur at food processing plants. This is why certain varieties of oats carry the GF label: they've been processed at a certified GF facility, and if you're extremely allergic to gluten then you want to avoid any trace of the potentially harmful protein. The moral of the story is, if you're avoiding gluten for reasons other than an allergy, oats have a place in your diet. Hooray!
This recipe is inspired by stir-fry, curry, and Mexican dishes alike, which is to say that the ingredients are interchangeable based on your refrigerator's contents and your stomach's cravings. The base, though, is universal, and without the onion and garlic can be used for sweet versions as well. If you're not sure what you'll be in the mood for during a given week, try making the oats plain, and then adding your toppings later. Steel cut oats have the benefit of withstanding reheating better than rolled oats, so when you make this big batch you can enjoy it however you like for longer.
1. Combine oats and oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir and cook until the oats are toasted and golden, with a light fragrance. Be careful not to let the oats burn!
2. Add minced garlic and chopped onion, and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add milk and water slowly, raising the heat and bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
4. When almost all the liquid has been absorbed, add the chopped peppers and stir to combine. Add nutritional yeast and diced tomatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes to heat through and until the peppers are almost soft.
5. Add the spinach (keep the leaves whole) and basil. Stir well to combine, and cook until the spinach is wilted and liquid is 90% absorbed, about another 5-10 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and let the pot sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Divide into bowls and top with avocado slices, more nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and basil, as desired.
Enjoy at the start, or end, of your day!