Saturday, April 2, 2011

Savory oatmeal, with Gardein's seven grain crispy tenders & steamed veggies

This is not the flashiest, initial recipe to post, but it is representative of what I'm about (for the most part). Quick & easy! Even if you're an aspiring chef, no one has the time, or the desire, to toil over every meal. I also want everyone to see how easy & accessible vegan food can be, which is often the greatest hurdles for many new vegans, or those considering a vegan life. I believe that the only reason for this is because it's foreign, & not because it's truly difficult. With that in mind, I want the majority of the recipes that I post to not only be packed with flavor, but also to be easy enough for even the most kitchen phobic person to prepare.

The oatmeal recipe I'm sharing is so good, it's almost a crime to call it oatmeal. No offense to oatmeal enthusiasts, but when I think of oatmeal, I think of boring breakfast & cookies. One day I thought, to heck with it, I'm going to see what I can do with this stuff. I'd always loved the idea of a savory oatmeal, but I kept shying away. Thank goodness I threw caution to the wind (I'm such a wild one). The result is a bit like risotto. It is savory, creamy & the star of the show. The flavor profile also reminded me of mashed potatoes & gravy (if they were one with each other) & it caused me to envision it with some fried (or baked) chick'n. Definitely a good call! That first bite of crispy chick'n, mingling with the savory, creamy goodness of the oatmeal...angels sang! The fact that these comforting, hearty flavors could be achieved so effortlessly felt like a major score. If you love comfort food, I urge you to give this meal a try.

Savory oatmeal, with Gardein's seven grain crispy tenders & steamed veggies:

(makes enough for 2-3 people, depending on each appetite)

Savory oatmeal ingredients:
1 cup of old fashioned oats
1.5 cups water
1/2 cup diced onion (or 1 tsp fresh onion powder)
2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed & chopped (or 1 tsp fresh garlic powder)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt - more to taste (I use iodized sea salt)
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper - more to taste
(Optional: 1 TB vegan margarine or oil, but I honestly don't find that either of them adds enough to the dish to make it worth adding the extra fat & calories.)

1 package of Gardein's seven grain crispy tenders

1 large broccoli crown, diced
2 large handfuls of mini peeled carrots (You can find organic, mini carrots for a reasonable price. I prefer to keep them on hand, because they save me time & I'm much more likely to use them. If you prefer whole carrots, peel & chop 1-2 carrots, depending on the size. About 1.25 cups)
Herbamare, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

In a medium sauce pan, add the water & oats. Adding the oats before the water boils will cook the oats faster & make them creamier (FYI, doing this renders "quick" oats useless). Bring to a boil. While you wait for the oats to boil, prepare the onion & garlic (if using). Once boiling, lower heat to simmer, add your onion & garlic (unless you're using powdered onion & garlic), stir & cover. Stir occasionally.

Use the quick-cook method for the Gardein tenders. Once in the oven, be sure to turn them halfway through the cooking time. (If you're opposed to 45 seconds in the microwave, plan accordingly. Your oatmeal will be finished in 10 minutes, at most. (I do not recommend cooking the tenders completely in the microwave. They will NOT be crispy.)

Once your tenders are in the oven, dice up your broccoli. Add broccoli & carrots to a microwave safe casserole dish, cover completely with a lid or a plate (no water needed), and microwave on high for 2.5 - 3 minutes. (Again, if your microwave has become a giant paperweight, bravo. Plan your time accordingly)

If using the quick cooking method for your tenders, after you've flipped them (halfway mark), stir the nutritional yeast, salt & pepper (if using powdered onion & garlic, add them now) into your oats. Remove from heat, stir well & cover.

Carefully remove your steamed veggies from the microwave & lightly coat with Herbamare & black pepper.

Plate the veggies, oatmeal, chick'n & enjoy! (Psst...if using the microwave, you just made the entire meal in 15 minutes, and none of it will taste like it came from the microwave.)

Have fun with it! Cooking is not an exact science & you should play with your food. And if you make delicious changes, please come back and share with us.

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