There’s no rule that says porridge needs to be served sweet. A bowl of creamy cooked Quaker oats is the perfect base for all kinds of savoury toppings, too.
Once you unleash your porridge’s true potential, the only limit will be your imagination – and perhaps the contents of your cupboard, fridge and freezer. Try these inventive ideas for starters and set your both porridge and your deepest food-based fantasies free...
1 Mushroom oat-sotto
You know how making risotto can sometimes feel like a faff? Substitute oats for rice and it’s an absolute cinch.
To serve 2, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan or frying pan and cook 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic, both finely chopped, over a medium heat until soft.
Throw in a generous handful of chopped mushrooms. Try a mix of oyster, chanterelle and portobello, perhaps with a few dry porcini mushrooms – you can rehydrate them in just-boiled water, leave for around 10 mins, drain and then set aside the liquid to add depth to your stock.
Cook for a couple of minutes, then throw in 100g Quaker oats and stir. Get the pan really hot then add a good splash of white wine (optional), allowing it to evaporate before gradually adding around 250ml vegetable or chicken stock, plus some of the porcini liquid, if using.
Cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the oat-sotto is beautifully creamy – this should take around 5 mins. Remove from the heat, stir in 2 tbsp grated parmesan or vegan cheese, and serve.
2 Bacon ’n’ eggs
Bring two breakfast classics together for a match made in comfort-food heaven. Although something this lovely shouldn’t really be confined to mornings.
Season your usual porridge with salt, pepper and perhaps a sprinkling of mixed herbs or oregano. Meanwhile, grill or pan-fry a couple of rashers of bacon or pancetta until crisp, and poach or fry an egg (or two, if you’re ravenous).
You can also add grilled mushrooms, wilted spinach, sliced avocado or some chopped sausage – whatever you fancy. Pile on top of your oats and dig in.
3 Curry up
This is an easy-peasy way to spice up your oats.
Make porridge with vegetable stock (in place of water/milk), adding a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp curry powder per portion.
Then you can top with pretty much anything you like, from veg roasted with cumin seeds to sautéed asparagus and curry leaves. A dollop of plain yogurt will add tangy freshness.
4 Shakshuka–style oats
Brighten up your oats with the flavours of shakshuka, the Mediterranean eggs dish that’s usually baked or simmered on the stovetop.
To make a one-pot sharing dish, serving 4-6, heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a large ovenproof pan and fry 1 onion, finely chopped, and 1 red pepper over a medium heat until soft. Add 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 2 tbsps tomato purée, 1 tsp smoked paprika and a generous pinch of salt. Cook for a couple of minutes then add 2 cans (around 800g) chopped tomatoes and 150g Quaker oats.
Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat and carefully crack in an egg per person, making a well for each so they’re tucked in the sauce. Bake, uncovered, for around 10 mins at 200°C (180°C fan/gas mark 6), until the egg whites are opaque but the yolks have a slight jiggle.
If you’re short on time and need a faster dish, simply roast some tomatoes with chilli flakes and a drizzle of olive oil and spoon on top of your bowl of porridge before adding a poached or fried egg, some crumbled feta cheese and chopped coriander.
5 Donburi porridge
Take inspiration from the staple Japanese dish, donburi, which is named for the large bowl or “don” it’s served in, and is typically a mix of meat, vegetables, sauce, pickles and miso served over sticky steamed rice.
For this simplified version, brush some veg – squash, sweet potato, mushrooms, peppers, etc – with white miso paste before roasting at around 180°C (160°C fan/gas mark 4) until tender and lightly browned.
Meanwhile, make your porridge by substituting vegetable stock for the usual milk and/or water. Once cooked, reduce heat and stir in 1 tsp of white miso paste and 1 tbsp chopped spring onion. Set aside and keep warm.
Top with a handful of the roasted veg, some wilted spinach, dried chilli flakes and a little more spring onion. Add a fried or sliced soft-boiled egg for a heartier bowl.
Oats less ordinary
To help you get more inventive in the kitchen, Telegraph Spark has partnered with Quaker Oats and a team of expert foodies to create deliciously different oat-based recipes, from daring and decadent porridge twists to brilliant bakes and gourmet takes so you can impress and indulge.
For more ideas visit quaker.co.uk