This delicious Asian-influenced fried oatmeal dish makes traditional porridge oats into a delicious savoury breakfast, snack or side dish that will keep hunger at bay.
Savoury fried oatmeal
This savoury fried oatmeal recipe is designed to give the best of all worlds as a breakfast dish, although you don’t need to reserve it for breakfast. With all the benefits of your usual porridge oats but extra flavour and nutrition from the added vegetables, I think it’s an all-round winner.
- Bircher Muesli – everything you need to know to make the original overnight oats
- Leftover porridge? Try my easy leftover porridge bread
There is plenty of precedent for frying your oats. From skirlie to granola type dishes and fried oatmeal slices that are more or less an easy flapjack, people have been playing around with porridge in all sorts of ways for centuries.
Whatever you do with your oats, they also have a long and venerable history as a breakfast food. Full of soluble fibre, oats are believed to help keep weight down and all sorts of health conditions at bay, as well as keeping you feeling full for longer.
A fusion breakfast
Much as I like porridge, though, I rather like a savoury breakfast. This recipe is something of a mash up, drawing on Scottish, Turkish and East Asian threads for a quick and easy morning meal.
It has the porridge oats, served hot, but I have treated them like skirlie, frying them up with vegetables and garlic rather than the more traditional onions.
I have used peppers, carrots and mushrooms, the same sort of vegetables that you would find them in menemen, the classic Turkish breakfast dish. You can ring the changes as long as it will cook quickly in the frying pan.
Add a little tamari for extra flavour and your have a delicious vegetarian or vegan meal that is quick to rustle up at breakfast time.
My partner considers this transgressive cooking at breakfast time, but it’s nourishing, satisfying, tasty and plant based. You don’t have to reserve it for breakfast, of course. It could easily be a quick and tasty lunch or supper, or a side dish, especially with other Asian flavours.
Whatever the time of day, I love it and invite you to give it a try!
What is skirlie?
Skirlie is a traditional Scottish dish of oatmeal fried in suet or dripping with onions and salt and pepper. It’s originally one of those ancient poverty dishes that survive into more comfortable times as comfort food.
Skirlie is not normally eaten as a breakfast food like porridge, but as a side dish to mince or a stuffing for poultry. It is closely related to white or mealy pudding.
Why make savoury fried oatmeal
- flavour-packed, natural, unprocessed veggie breakfast
- quick and easy
- a nourishing meal at any time of day
- extra veg!
Savoury oatmeal ingredients
- Oats – jumbo rolled oats, and not quick cook types
- Butter and olive oil for frying – the butter adds flavour but use all oil to make it vegan
- Vegetables – peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, carrots, squash, spring onions or whatever you prefer. It if would work well in an omelette, it will work in your savoury oatmeal.
- Garlic – I have kept the other vegetables flexible but I do like some garlic in the mix.
- Tamari/soy sauce – for flavour
How to make savoury fried oatmeal – step by step
Before you start, read my step-by-step instructions, with photos, hints and tips so you can make this perfectly every time.
Scroll down for the recipe card with quantities and more tips at the bottom of the page.
Step One – Soak the oats overnight, leaving them in twice the volume of water to oats. When you are ready to cook, drain off the excess liquid.
Step Two – Prepare the vegetables, peeling, trimming and chopping them into even sized pieces for frying. Sturdier vegetables like carrots need to be cut smaller than watery vegetables, unless you are using pre-cooked leftovers.
Keep the garlic separate and chop into fine pieces.
Helen’s Fuss Free Tip
This is a great use of vegetables left at the end of the week. When I have scraps of different veg to use up, I peel, slice and dice everything. Add to a pan with some oil in, season and fry. Then cover and allow to simmer on the lowest heat for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Store the resulting mix to add to the base for soups and stews or to use in flexible dishes like this.
Step Three – Heat the butter and oil together in a pan and then add all the vegetables except for the garlic. Fry gently until soft and fragrant but not browned. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
Step Four – Add the oats to the pan. Break them up and spread them out and continue to fry gently. Don’t stir too often, as you want them to colour and crisp up, but do not allow them to burn. Add a little extra oil to the pan if you need to.
Step Five – Add a generous glug of tamari or other soy sauce. Stir well. Serve your savoury fried oatmeal hot.
I enjoy this savoury fried oatmeal dish sprinkled with some sesame seeds and chopped parsley or coriander for breakfast. It makes a generous meal for one, or enough for two if served with toast.
You can garnish it with sesame seeds, chilli flakes, nori/seaweed sprinkles, bonito/katsuoboshi flakes, hot sauce or chopped herbs.
You can add an egg or serve with bacon, or enjoy it for supper if you prefer. The possibilities are endless!
- Vary the vegetables. You could add spring onion, celery, onions, sweet potato… This dish is great for using up cooked vegetable leftovers at the end of the week.
- It is easy to vary the flavours with a little spice. Add some ginger or even chilli, scatter with sesame seeds or add some nuts.
- Soak the oatmeal in stock or add some dashi or miso to the soak water.
- Chop and fry some bacon with the vegetables or serve with a fried egg on top for a more substantial meal.
- Add some tomato and paprika and leave out the tamari for a different flavour palate.
I like my savoury oats fresh from the pan, so make it when you want to eat it. You can, however, soak double the quantity of oats and leave the extra in the fridge for the next day.
Hints and tips
- Hold the garlic back and add it once the other vegetables have started to cook. You don’t want to risk burning your garlic.
- Don’t stir the oats too much once you have added them. Spread them out and break up into small clumps in the pan, and then let them crisp up, turning so that they cook on both sides.
- Don’t try to store this dish. Like a conventional full English breakfast, it wants to be fresh from the pan.
You can soak enough oats to last two or three days and leave the extra in the fridge to use the next day, and you can chop the veg or use leftovers to speed things up, but only cook what you are going to eat now.
Oats are full of soluble fibre and great at helping you to stave off cholestrol problems as well as hunger! There’s protein in there too, along with essential minerals and B vitamins. You can read more about the health benefits of oats at health charity Heart UK.
In this recipe, you would get a very different texture (and probably burnt oats) by adding them straight to the oil unsoaked.
Soaking oats makes them quicker to cook and easier to digest. It helps the flavour too. You will always get a creamier, more delicious porridge by soaking your oats first.
No, since there are other nutritional benefits to the oats than the cholesterol-lowering beta-glucan. And I prefer to think that the oats are neutralising any negatives to the small amount of fat in this dish.
More breakfast oats recipes
- Easy Protein Breakfast Baked Oats – delicious baked pots of fruit and oats
- Bircher Muesli – the classic healthy sweet breakfast with carrots and fruit
- Tomato Savoury Overnight Oats – satisfying and tasty savoury oats for a great healthy breakfast
- Find more breakfast ideas to explore.
Savoury Fried Oatmeal
- 1/2 cup jumbo rolled oats
- 2 cups assorted chopped vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, carrots etc.)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tsp butter
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp tamari
- Soak the oats overnight in 1 cup of water. Whenyou are ready to cook, drain off any excess liquid.1/2 cup jumbo rolled oats
- Peel, trim and chop the vegetables as necessary, cutting into even sized pieces. Chop uncooked, starchier vegetables into smaller pieces. Keep the garlic separate and chop finely.2 cups assorted chopped vegetables, 1 clove garlic
- Heat the butter and oil in a pan. Add all the vegetables except the garlic and fry until softened and fragrant. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute longer.2 tsp butter, 2 tsp olive oil
- Add the oats to the pan. Break up and spread out the oats, and fry gently, allowing them to crisp up without burning. Add a little extra oil if necessary.
- Finally, add the tamari and stir through well. Serve hot.2 tsp tamari