Quick meals with rolled oats

Author: Emma Knowles
Photography: Ben Dearnley

The nutty flavour and texture of these little grains of goodness perform well beyond porridge.

Chances are, now that it's officially winter, your breakfast routine involves a bowl of comforting porridge, perhaps topped with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a splash of milk. We love porridge as much as the next person, but oats have a whole lot more to give.

They start off as groats, the whole grains of the cereal, which are usually toasted to inhibit the enzyme that makes them go rancid. They can be steel-cut into little pieces or steamed and rolled into flakes.

The recipes here call for regular, pantry-staple rolled oats. We prefer the slightly firmer texture of the traditional version over softer "quick" oats. Rolled oats add a beautifully nutty flavour and texture to sweets and baked goods - try them in a topping for fruit crumble or in the Scottish whisky-spiked cranachan dessert, where we've replaced the traditional berries with rhubarb for a more wintry take.

We've also included porridge, but a savoury version seasoned with soy sauce, spring onion and chilli, and crowned with a poached egg. See? We told you oats were versatile.

Fish fingers
Serves 4
Cut 600gm skinless blue-eye trevalla fillet into rough 2cm x 10cm fingers and set aside. Pulse 150gm rolled oats in a food processor with ½ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley and finely grated rind of 1 lemon, and season to taste. Coat fish pieces first in seasoned flour, then in lightly beaten egg, then roll in oat mixture to coat. Heat 1cm vegetable oil in a large deep frying pan over medium-high heat and fry fish fingers, turning occasionally, until golden brown and flesh flakes easily when gently pressed with a fork (4-5 minutes). Drain on paper towels and serve hot with lemon wedges, mashed potato and buttered green beans.

Rhubarb cranachan
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 200C. Toss 400gm coarsely chopped rhubarb in a roasting pan with 140gm caster sugar and juice of 1 orange, and roast until tender (15-20 minutes). Meanwhile, spread 50gm rolled oats on a baking tray and bake, stirring occasionally, until browned (5-10 minutes). Meanwhile, whisk 200ml thickened cream, 30ml whisky and 30gm honey in a bowl to soft peaks. Layer roast rhubarb in glasses or serving bowls with whipped cream and toasted oats, and serve.

Oat bread
Makes 1 loaf
Soak 150gm rolled oats in 425ml very hot milk in the bowl of an electric mixer with 1 tbsp brown sugar, 20gm diced butter and 2 tsp sea salt for 30 minutes. Add 3 tsp dried yeast and 200gm bread flour, and knead on low speed, then add another 150gm bread flour and knead on medium speed until elastic (2-3 minutes). Cover and prove until doubled in size (1 hour). Knock back dough, form into a loaf and brush all over with water. Roll in dry oats to coat, place in a buttered 10cm x 23cm loaf tin and prove until doubled in size (1 hour). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Bake loaf until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped (30-35 minutes), cool on a wire rack. Best eaten on the day it's made.

Savoury porridge with soft egg, soy and chilli
Serves 2
Bring 250ml each chicken stock and water to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir in 150gm (1 cup) oats, 1 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tsp finely grated ginger. Season to taste, bring to the simmer, and stir occasionally until thick and tender (6-8 minutes). Meanwhile, poach 2 eggs in a separate saucepan of simmering water until cooked to your liking (3-4 minutes for soft yolks) and drain on paper towels. Serve oats hot, topped with poached egg, soy sauce and thinly sliced small red chilli, spring onion and finely grated ginger to taste. Fried shallots will add a delicious crunch.

Hot tip
+ Before making porridge, soak the oats overnight - they cook faster, release more nutrients and make a creamier porridge. Win-win.







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