Not Your Granny’s Oatmeal

Push the breakfast envelope with this savory oatmeal recipe by writer Sherrie Flick.

Photo by Sherrie Flick


I have a confession. I’m a member of a group with a certain, um, proclivity. It’s not unique. Everyone has these particular fantasies. We just go one step further and make these fantasies a reality. Then we take photos and share it with everyone. “Ooohs” and “aaahs” are common. The group is not quite a “secret,” but it’s definitely “invitation-only.”

Oh, stop. The fantasies I’m referring to are those 1 million Americans share with me every night. Go ahead, call us the fringe. But it’s the fringe majority that made the six people who created Instagram $1 billion richer.

That’s right. A group that is obsessed with making food dreams come true. Most people like to watch (The Food Network) and look at pictures (in food magazines). We like to do it — whip, truss, beat, massage, you name it. It’s 50 shades more interesting than any other group I’ve been a part of. We have kimchi experts, baking gods, vegetarians, omnis, writers, photographers, professionals and amateurs, all sharing a love for food.

We are international. And we are hardcore.

Skeptical? Check out this lifehacked lightbox a member of our clan made exclusively for food photos.

Instagram that.

If I have a food question, I know exactly where to turn. If I need ideas, they are just a click away in the foodiesphere.

This group keeps me on my toes. Experimentations are rampant. And one such experimentation period led me to this recipe.

Many of you know that I’m not a fan of sweet breakfasts, and I really try to make the most important meal of the day count by making it as nutrient-dense as possible. Smoothies usually do it for me in the summer, but as soon as fall hits, I need a warm breakfast. I shared one of my favorites last year — comforting, creamy grits made even better with some quinoa and greens. This year, one of my favorite people (and an uber-talented writer), Sherrie Flick, shared some of her eye-opening experimentations with savory oatmeal.

*Face palm*

Why didn’t I think of that? Maybe because it’s hard to imagine the tried-and-true brown sugar and cinnamon favorite from the polar opposite flavor spectrum. Last year, my friend Jack actually texted me photos of his versions of savory oatmeal, but I remained doubtful. Red peppers and shiitake mushrooms? Intriguing. I made a mental bookmark but never worked up the courage. Sherrie was posting photos for a while before I finally reached my tipping point. I asked her to share her recipe, suspended my disbelief and whipped up a batch.

And then … BAM! POW! Shazzam! Rivers parted. Stairways led to heaven. Angels sang. I almost wept. My breakfast horizons opened. The creamy coconut-milk-infused oatmeal was PERFECT. With sautéed beet greens, sliced avocados, marinated shiitake mushrooms and sliced green onions drizzled with some tamari and olive oil, each bite was pure pleasure and warmed me deep in my bones. I felt like I could have conquered the world after that breakfast.

What’s it like? It’s like risotto but smoother. Like jook — but a little sweeter. Like a breakfast bibimbap with endless options for toppings. Honestly, you don’t have to make anything special to add on to this wonderful base. I used leftover greens from the night before, some avocados I had on hand, leftover sauerkraut and some mushrooms I had marinating in the fridge.

I can’t wait to try some with miso, some nuts for crunch, sea vegetables — the possibilities are literally endless once you cross the savory line. Sherrie tops her oatmeal with runny eggs, and the yolk makes the “porridge” even richer.

She adds that “[t]his type of porridge is addictive once you get into the swing of things. It provides a house-lifting energy boost that can help an eater push through even the most daunting morning to-do list.”

Sherrie speaks the truth.



  Sherrie Flick’s Savory Porridge

Yield: Serves 2-3



  • 1 ½ c coconut milk (or your preferred milk)
  • 1 ½ c water
  • 1 ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ c. rolled oats
  • ½ c. steel-cut oats



1. Add milk, water and salt to a pan. Add both kinds of oats.

2. Bring to a boil and then simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until you have the porridge consistency you like.

3. The rolled oats will get creamy, while the steel-cut oats will have a luscious pop to them. Add more water if it gets too gloppy any time along the way. Spoon into a bowl.

4. Now the fun starts! Lean it savory instead of sweet by adding a sliced hard-boiled, fried or poached egg if you’re feeling fancy; chopped pickles, pickled chard stems, or pickled carrots; a sliced avocado; a dab or two of sriracha hot sauce; salt (if needed) and pepper or, once again if you’re getting fancy, a sprinkling of cumin would be nice.

5. Sauté some garlic (1-2 cloves thinly sliced) in olive oil (1 T). Add a bunch of chopped Swiss chard or kale greens and continue sautéing until they wilt (add salt and pepper as needed).

6. If you have leftover base porridge, store in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat with a little added water or milk the next day for more savory experimentation.

If you’re interested in more grain varieties for porridge, Sherrie recommends this.

Sherrie Flick is a fiction writer and food writer living in Pittsburgh. Her essay on the Tam-o-Shanter bar in Lincoln, Neb., is included in the just-released anthology Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food (University of Nebraska Press), which was edited by Peggy Wolff. Find her work online at

Categories: Brazen Kitchen