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I am certain that, long before you started looking into the Mediterranean Diet, you had heard that oatmeal was one of the healthiest foods you could eat. The box of Cheerios you probably ate as a kid has for years boasted the statement “Three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods, like Cheerios™ cereal, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease”.
There are many reasons to eat oats, but the main one for me is that they taste awesome!
What are steel cut oats
Steel cut oats are just one processing step away from the grain’s natural state (the oat groat). The full oat grain is simply cut into two or three parts. Questions for you to ponder: do goats eat oat groats? Can you eat oat groats with a coat or on a boat? How about oat groats with a toast?… Sorry, I couldn’t help a few Dr Seuss-isms…
Old fashioned rolled oats, on the other hand, involve steaming the grain then rolling it. Quick cooking oats are rolled oats that are rolled thinner and cut into smaller pieces. And instant oats are even further processed with added sugar and flavorings.
Because steel cut oats are less processed, they absorb more liquid and take longer to cook. Tastes vary, obviously, and not everyone likes their oats the same way. The way I like mine is creamy, chewy but soft, and slightly nutty. There are also many methods to make them, from instant pot to overnight. What I’m describing here is only the stove top method which works well for me. So here’s how it goes.
How to cook creamy steel cut oats
- Toast the oats. This first step is optional, but is key to that nutty feeling… It involves toasting the oats in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil for a few minutes. Just until they become golden and fragrant. Don’t burn them…
- Bring water and milk to a boil. While you toast the oats, bring water, milk and a pinch of salt to a boil in a large pot (stock pot or Dutch oven) over medium high heat. The reason for the large pot is that milk tends to raise in the pot when boiling and I’d like to save you from any spills on your stove top. You can thank me later. Don’t forget to stir from time to time and keep an eye on the pot! A gentle boil is what we’re after, not a milk volcano.
- Add the oats and optional vanilla. As soon as you see bubbles forming around the edges of the pot and just a few in the middle, add the toasted oats and stir. If you plan on using these oats with sweet toppings, now is a good time to add some vanilla extract. It will bring your oats to the next level. If you are mostly a savory oats person, vanilla should probably be omitted. But that hasn’t always stopped me in the past. I love vanilla with everything.
- Simmer and stir. Cover, bring back to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to low. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent from sticking at the bottom. It’s done.
- Rest and serve. Let the oats rest a few minutes to reach a palatable temperature. They will continue to thicken as they cool down.
How to eat creamy steel cut oats
Oats are fantastic not only with sweet toppings but also savory. Here a just a few ideas: fresh, frozen or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters, coconut flakes, dark chocolate chips, eggs, roasted vegetables…
How to store steel cut oats
The recipe below yields 4 copious servings or 6 smaller servings. Once cooked, these creamy steel cut oats will keep in the refrigerator for a week. It only takes about 90 seconds in the microwave to reheat them. You can also freeze individual portions and take them from freezer to microwave when you are ready to eat them.
Are you ready to try? If you find the outcome is not to your taste, experiment and change some of the variables in the equation: time, amount of liquid, flavorings… The world is your oatster!
Other recipes to try
Creamy steel cut oats
- Place water and milk in a stock pot or large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 cup steel cut oats. Cook, stirring occasionally until the oats are golden and start smelling nutty. You may hear some popping sounds, that's a signal it's ready. Remove from the heat.
- As soon as you see bubbles forming around the edges of the pot and just a few in the middle, add the toasted oats to the boiling liquid. Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla (optional)
- Cover, bring back to a boil, stir and lower the heat to a simmer.
- Cook 30 minutes, stirring periodically. The mixture should be thick and creamy.
- Remove from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes to finish thickening up.
- Serve with any toppings of your choice. Refrigerate or freeze any unused portion.