So, a little background on me: I was a vegetarian for almost fifteen years, starting when I was about 20. When I moved in with my carnivorous fiancé, Dusty, I started incorporating a little bit of meat back into my diet. I didn’t intend to at first; in fact we would always cook separately, since there’s not a ton of overlap in the foods we like anyway.
One thing we could share was pizza, which we made together from scratch every Sunday. I would put various roasted vegetables on my half, or just leave it plain cheese, and he would make his usual heap o’ meat: ham, pepperoni, bacon, and ground beef. Occasionally we wouldn’t cut it quite perfectly down the center, and a fraction of a pepperoni slice would find its way onto my side. (Did I mention that pepperoni pizza was the very last thing I gave up, when I went vegetarian? The struggle was real.) My primary motivation for eating a vegetarian diet was to cut down on industrial farming. But… I also find pepperoni delicious. So I said to myself, “Well, it’s too late for this poor pepperoni anyway, it’s already paid for, and my not eating it isn’t going to cast an economic vote one way or the other.” And I went on that way for months, eating an occasional slice of pepperoni and reveling in it, but not intending to make any other major changes to my habits.
Then one day, by accident (yes! it really was an accident, although Dusty gleefully implies otherwise to this day), I was rushing out the door and took his slice of leftover pizza to work instead of my own. Lunchtime came around, I took a bite without thinking about it, and… it was all over. It was so good. Some kind of meltdown happened in my brain, and I decided that, after so many years of eating so strictly, I needed to go adventuring. I wanted to see what other flavors I’d been missing.
So, for the past year or two, huge sections of cookbooks that had always been blank to me were suddenly filled with new and exciting ideas. I finally tried the celebrated local Pacific Northwest salmon, and tasted for myself what everyone was so excited about. I spent more than ten seconds looking at menus in restaurants. I put bacon in all the things: pizza, muffins, soup, omelets, sandwiches. My heart was happy. (My figurative heart, anyway; my physical heart probably not so much.)
Why am I going on and on about the glories of meat in this review of a recipe with no meat, you ask? It’s just to let you know that, although I’m not vegetarian currently, I spent many years in constant search of the elusive savory vegetarian dish. It’s very difficult to find a meatless recipe that hits those hearty & savory notes; the elusive “umami” flavor, the stick-to-your-ribs-ness that makes you want to curl up with it on a cold night.
This recipe has all of that. I was a little skeptical at first (“Mushrooms? In my oatmeal?”), but it looked interesting and I needed to round out my week’s worth of healthy recipes, so I figured it was worth a shot.
I’m definitely glad I tried it. It basically took all of the things I like about ramen and turned them into a brunch recipe. (I will admit that I don’t think I’d be up for this as breakfast first thing in the morning; I made it for lunch, and it was perfect. Hearty and satisfying, but not heavy.)
A few notes:
- The mushroom type makes a big difference here. I used cremini mushrooms, as written, and they were tasty. Shiitake or maitake mushrooms would also be good I think; anything with some substantial, unique flavor. I probably wouldn’t just throw white mushrooms in here.
- The recipe called for a dash of soy sauce; my recommendation is to dash, and then keep on dashing, and then dash a few times more. More of a 400-meter than a 100-meter, if you catch my drift. I like salt, what can I say.
- I also added some garlic, because why not.
- The oatmeal-to-mushroom ratio is a little high. I got two bowls out of this before running out of mushroom topping, and still had more than a cup of cooked oatmeal left over. Next time I will either make more mushrooms or less oatmeal.
Very tasty, and worth making again. I did not add any sriracha sauce, because I’m a total lightweight when it comes to spicy foods, but I’m sure it would be good that way as well.
It’s totally worth clicking through to the Cooks’ Illustrated soft-boiled eggs tutorial too, if you haven’t had much luck with soft-boiled eggs in the past (as I haven’t). I followed his instructions in the linked article, which were super simple, and my eggs came out great. They weren’t even hard to peel.
Deliciousness score: 7
Easiness score: 7