Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Basic Ingredients with Multiple Uses: 5 Different Ways to Use Rolled Oats

If you've been reading my grocery shopping plans for the past several months, you will have likely noticed that I buy basic ingredients and transform them into a diverse repertoire of meals. My pantry stock-up plan for this fall includes buying stock-up quantities of several different grains and legumes. These basic ingredients are some of the most affordable foods that you can buy, making them the  center of my plan for a spartan grocery budget. Eating the same basic ingredients can become a tad dull, however. To keep these interesting, I implement a variety of ideas in their use, trying to see new possibilities for familiar ingredients.

You may have noticed that in August's grocery plan, I planned to buy a 25-lb sack of rolled oats. The 25-lb bag was on sale at Cash & Carry, motivating me to brainstorm the many ways that I use oats.

A lot of websites will feature articles on XX number of ways to use a particular ingredient. In looking closely, a lot of the recipes are just variations on a theme. For instance, you may find a dozen recipes for baked goods when looking up what to do with oats. That type of information is definitely helpful; but what I wanted to explore was how to see an ingredient in a different way and find less traditional uses for it. Today, I'm going to look at rolled oats.

First thoughts include cooked oatmeal as a breakfast cereal, homemade granola, and oatmeal cookies. I know from my own experience that rolled oats can be used in many more ways than this.


As a beverage
Maybe you're already familiar with the non-dairy, milk-substitute beverage, horchata. My daughters first introduced me to horchata. They were studying Latin American culture in school and were tasked with preparing something Hispanic for the rest of their class. They chose to make oat horchata. While horchata is often made with rice, almonds, and/or coconut, there is also a version that uses oats, sometimes known as Agua de Avena (oatmeal water). There are lean versions (including only oats, water, cinnamon, and a small amount of sweetening) and rich versions (the above along with the addition of some sweetened condensed milk) of this beverage. For the rich version, you can take a look at the recipe on this page. When my daughters made this, and when I subsequently have made it, I've added a bit of vanilla extract to the cinnamon or omitted the cinnamon altogether and flavored with almond extract.

You can also simply make oat milk to use in savory dishes and sauces, omitting the cinnamon and sweetening. Soak 1 cup of rolled oats in 3  1/2 cups of water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then process in a blender with a pinch of salt added until the oats are pureed. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Refrigerate the strained liquid until needed. Stir the oat milk before each use. Oat milk will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week. If cooking with oat milk, for instance to make a sauce, keep in mind that oat milk, as grain-based, will thicken as it cooks. When making something like a cream soup or cooked sauce, you would want to reduce any other thickeners (like flour) that are called for in the recipe.

Once you have the plain version of oat milk, you can easily add flavors to it, such as almond or vanilla extract, chocolate syrup, cinnamon, and sweetenings like honey, stevia, or cane sugar.

I've made this for myself when I've been out of soy, almond, or rice milk. It tends to have sediment that settles to the bottom of the container, but otherwise it works very well and I especially like it as the base for hot cocoa for myself.

Obviously, oats have a different nutrient make-up than dairy milk. But oat milk does make a good substitute in a pinch or to replace other commercial non-dairy milks. Beyond just an emergency replacement, horchata is delicious in its own right and worth giving a try some evening when you're preparing a Hispanic meal.


As a flour
All out (or almost all out) of all-purpose flour? You can make flour with rolled oats. Simply process unflavored rolled oats in a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder until the consistency of flour. Pulsing the machine will result in a more uniform texture without burning out your motor. Every 60 seconds, take the lid off of your machine and stir up the particles then pulse again. This helps redistribute any particles which keep missing the blades.

You can use oat flour in quick breads (non-yeast breads that rely on baking powder or baking soda plus an acid like buttermilk and/or egg for leavening) or yeast breads.

My favorite baked good for using homemade oat flour is oat scones. I substitute oat flour for about half of the all-purpose flour in a scone recipe. They bake up nice and crumbly (just the way I like scones) with an oat-y flavor.

Oat flour also makes tasty muffins. Egg, oil, and milk help bind oat flour in the muffins, so oat muffins do turn out less crumbly than scones.

Another way that I enjoy using homemade oat flour in a quick bread is loaf-style, either as a free-form loaf of scone dough patted out into a mound on a buttered baking sheet, or baked in a buttered loaf pan, as in this honey-oat bread. For the scone bread, just like making individual scones, adding some all-purpose flour will help hold the baked bread together. Oat loaf breads are the type of thing that goes well with a pot of soup for a warming supper.

You can also use oat flour in banana bread, using about 1/2 oat flour, 1/2 all-purpose flour. If you google "oat flour banana bread," you should be able to pull up several recipes that use oat flour in the bread.

In addition to baking quick breads, oat flour can also be substituted for a portion of the wheat flour in a yeast bread. Since oat flour holds moisture so well, limit it to 1/3 of the flour called for, with the remaining flour as all-purpose flour. I've used a basic white bread recipe, substituting oat flour for some of the all-purpose flour, and the resulting bread has been very delicious. Oat flour seems to have a naturally sweet flavor, which I think makes this a great bread for toasting.


In place of breadcrumbs
Rolled oats can also stand-in for bread crumbs when making meatloaf, meatballs, or bean patties or loaves. If you pulse some dry oats in a blender or food processor for a few brief seconds, the result should be a coarse meal, which is about right as a breadcrumb substitute.


As a savory dish
Rice isn't the only grain in the pantry to be used for savory sides. For a quick savory breakfast, lunch, or supper, oats can be added to eggs, such as in this Indian Oats and Scrambled Eggs, or as the grain-base for topping with a fried egg and veggies, such as in this Tex-Mex fried egg, salsa, cheese, and avocado topped oatmeal. There is nothing remotely "nursery" about these oatmeal dishes. They are robust, full of flavor, and filling enough to stand in for a quick meal at any time of the day.

Once you're on-board with the whole savory oats as a possibility, then you're ready to try risotto-like dishes made with oats. Most oatmeal risotto recipes call for steel cut oats. However, this recipe, here, uses rolled oats, along with mushrooms, onions, stock, wine, and cheese.


As the basis for a patty
When you have leftover cooked oatmeal, here's an option for using it up that won't look or taste anything like a bowl of porridge. This recipe from SparkPeople uses egg, pepper, and salt mixed in with cooked oatmeal to make a basic savory patty.  Spruce this up with some minced onion, minced mushrooms, green pepper, bits of ham, and some garlic and you have something extraordinary.

Here's another patty suggestion, from the Prudent Homemaker. It's a rolled oats patty that is seasoned with sage, poultry seasoning, and dried onions. The patty is then smothered in a gravy made from Cream of Mushroom soup and milk. I think you could also make a simple pan gravy after frying the patties using any oil left in the pan, supplemented with other fat (perhaps saved chicken fat), flour, chicken soup base/bouillon, sage, and milk and/or water. Thanks to Gaila in the comments for calling attention to this recipe.


Here are 5 non-traditional uses for rolled oats. This should keep me going with my 25-lb sack for a while. How else can they be used?

20 comments:

Kris said...

I would never have thought of using oats for milk or for patties. Very ingenious! I have used oat flour before in yeast breads and I love it--it seems to make the bread more moist and adds a subtle nutty taste. They are so nutritious--it's great to find new ways to use them!

Lili said...

Hi Kris,
I think the patties would make an excellent Sunday breakfast. I'm working up a plan in my head. Winter Saturday mornings -- hot oatmeal for breakfast. Then the following Sunday mornings -- oatmeal, egg, etc patties for breakfast or a quick lunch after church.
The oat milk is a great thing to know how to do in a pinch. It's easier to make than rice milk, and very handy for those times when you can't get out to the store and you're out of milk. We had a couple of weeks this past winter when I couldn't get out of the neighborhood because of the icy roads. I made milk substitutes when we ran out of milk.

Gaila said...

Hi Lili have you checked out the prudent homemakers "Chicken" Fried Steak recipe? It's really delicious and have fooled many a meat eater in my family! Love the ideas and enjoy your blog! Have a blessed week!! Gaila in the NW

Anonymous said...

I second the Prudent Homemaker recipe, it's delicious! Also uncooked oats can be used to stretch hamburger- just add it to the raw meat and form patties (I like to add diced onions as well).

live and learn said...

Lot's of good ideas, Lili. While I know there are different nutritional, flavor, and tastes between oats and white flour, in general how do the costs compare?

Cat said...

I see someone else already mentioned this, but I have used oats mixed with ground beef to make more quantity out of less meat. Works well in things like meat loaf, taco meat, etc... .

Bonnie said...

Wow, maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks! I have only recently been told to avoid gluten. Being lactose free was difficult enough. It was a good diagnosis, though. My tummy troubles have eased considerably. I have been challenged a lot with baking as the alternative flours are so expensive. Many recipes call for almond flour. It is $12.99 for 12 oz. at my closest store. As one person commented "close" counts in a winter like last year. I will not buy it in any case. This has been such an informative post! Thanks so much; I will be more aggressive about finding out about oats. I'm half Scottish, for goodness sakes!

Anonymous said...

If you have a thin spaghetti sauce you can also throw in a handful of oatmeal to thicken it up,it has the consistency of hamburger when cooked and takes on the flavour of the sauce.A few weeks ago I had half a can of pork&beans left over so I mashed them and added 1 cup of leftover cooked oatmeal,,an egg,finely chopped onion and celery,salt&pepper and enough breadcrumbs to bind together and formed into patties.I then fried them in a little margarine and the hubby really liked them so I will be making them again.I also make muffins with leftover cooked oatmeal that are very good.

Alice said...

Would this work for quick oats or just old fashioned oats?

I too have to reduce my carbs so I'm so happy to see this post today. Oats are naturally low carb so I'm willing to try just about anything.

Alice

dee said...

Great recipes and thank you , I just purchased a 25lb bag of oats at WinCo and i'll try some of these good rcipes.

Lili said...

Gaila said...
have you checked out the prudent homemakers "Chicken" Fried Steak recipe?


Thank you, Gaila, for adding this recipe to my list. I just linked to it in the main post. I'll be giving this one a try! Thanks again!

Lili said...

Anonymous said...
. . .uncooked oats can be used to stretch hamburger- just add it to the raw meat and form patties (I like to add diced onions as well).


This sounds great, especially with the onions. I sometimes add bread crumbs to ground beef for hamburger patties when I've needed to stretch what I had. It works great and gives a softer texture to the beef. Thanks for the suggestion!

Lili said...

live and learn said...
. . .between oats and white flour, in general how do the costs compare?


Oats are more expensive than white or whole wheat flour for me. I paid about 63 cents/lb for rolled oats, 27 cents/lb for white flour, and about 27 cents/lb for whole wheat flour. So, I wouldn't spend the time making oat flour for all or most of my baking, unless there was a particular outcome I wanted (like the flavor or texture that oat scones or oat bread has) or I was about out or all out of white flour and needed some kind of flour to bake what I wanted. The other reason I might choose to make oat flour or oat crumbs to add to meat might be if I was trying to increase the soluble fiber in my diet to reduce overall cholesterol levels in my blood.

Good question.

Lili said...

Cat said...
. . . have used oats mixed with ground beef to make more quantity out of less meat. Works well in things like meat loaf, taco meat, etc...


I've never tried stretching taco meat with oats. That's a great suggestion, Cat. Thanks!

Lili said...

Bonnie said...
. . . a lot with baking as the alternative flours are so expensive. Many recipes call for almond flour. It is $12.99 for 12 oz. at my closest store.


Thank you, Bonnie! Oh yes, almond flour is really pricey. Oat flour would definitely make a cheaper gluten-free flour, even if you were sensitive enough to need gluten-free oats.
I'm glad I could offer a suggestion that might work for you.

Lili said...

Anonymous said...
If you have a thin spaghetti sauce you can also throw in a handful of oatmeal to thicken it up,it has the consistency of hamburger when cooked and takes on the flavour of the sauce.A few weeks ago I had half a can of pork&beans left over so I mashed them and added 1 cup of leftover cooked oatmeal,,an egg,finely chopped onion and celery,salt&pepper and enough breadcrumbs to bind together and formed into patties.I then fried them in a little margarine and the hubby really liked them so I will be making them again.I also make muffins with leftover cooked oatmeal that are very good.


Thank you for these suggestions! I'd never thought to add the oats to spaghetti sauce. I have added dry TVP to thin spaghetti sauce before. This would have a similar effect. For the muffins, I don't know if you do this ,too, but I blend leftover oatmeal with the other liquid ingredients. This way the oatmeal doesn't clump together in the muffins. This works really well in banana or pumpkin bread, too.

Lili said...

Alice said...
Would this work for quick oats or just old fashioned oats?
I too have to reduce my carbs so I'm so happy to see this post today. Oats are naturally low carb so I'm willing to try just about anything.


Hi Alice, yes, this works with quick oats, too, and actually you'd be able to turn quick oats into flour faster than regular rolled oats, as the particles are already smaller. The patties should turn out just fine with quick oats, as well. hope you enjoy these ideas!

Lili said...

dee said...
Great recipes and thank you , I just purchased a 25lb bag of oats at WinCo and i'll try some of these good rcipes.


I'm glad to be of help, Dee! Enjoy!

Holley M said...

I just tried this new recipe yesterday and they are the best muffins I've ever made. I had a tiny bit of berries left over from a baby shower and I wanted to make something substantial with them. This recipe was perfect as it only needs one cup of berries! I made two batches -one strawberry and one blueberry. I will be using this recipe often from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures =
https://www.lynnskitchenadventures.com/oatmeal-breakfast-muffins/

Lili said...

Holley M said...
. . . the best muffins I've ever made. I had a tiny bit of berries left over from a baby shower and I wanted to make something substantial with them. This recipe was perfect as it only needs one cup of berries! I made two batches -one strawberry and one blueberry. I will be using this recipe often from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures =
https://www.lynnskitchenadventures.com/oatmeal-breakfast-muffins/


Thanks for the link, Holley. These sound wonderful. I'm going to try them out!