Love Notes to Oats

Oats are no joke. No longer mere breakfast fodder, they’re the biggest thing since soy, almond, and cashew combined. Where other alternative milk once struggled to gain a foothold, oat milk strides confidently forward, breaking down the doors that previously separated plant-based options from the mainstream menu. It’s not just the cream in your coffee, or milk in your cereal, either; everyday it seems, this old dog is learning new tricks.

Excelling at each culinary test, sweet or savory, you’re liable to find oats in your ice cream, oats in your butter, and even oats in your tacos. Each innovative application is bolder than the last and exponentially more successful. The only thing surprising about the meteoric rise of oats is that it took so long in the first place.

Rich and creamy once blended, it satisfies without the need for expensive, potentially allergenic nuts, fatty oils, or added thickeners. Neutral in taste, it’s the silent partner to any featured flavors, no matter how subtle. From a sustainability standpoint, few crops can beat it for efficiency and yields, even for a bad harvest. It’s no wonder the world has fallen in love with this humble grain.

What does surprise me are the random holes in the market where oats haven’t yet sprouted. While the dairy cases are practically lined with oat straw and husks, the aisle of dressings is utterly barren by contrast. Conventional blends of mayonnaise and mysterious emulsifiers still reign supreme, seemingly untouched by the shift towards plant-based improvements. For me, it’s just one of many reasons to leave the bottles on the shelf and whip up your own dressings at home.

Green Goddess dressing is one of my favorite toppings for an equally verdant bowlful of vegetables. Bright, zesty, bold, and herbaceous, it simply tastes bracingly, invigoratingly fresh. Perfect for spring and summer, especially as tender herbs proliferate. Usually I start with avocado as the base, but now that I’ve found oats, I’m happy to dice those buttery fruits as rich, chunky toppers instead.

The list of healthy hashtags for this one could fill a novel; vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free, fat-free, corn-free, and so on, and so forth. In spite of all that it excludes, it doesn’t lack a single thing when it comes to taste or texture. Naturally thick and creamy yet incredibly light on the palate, it’s the best of all words, without making any compromises.

I, for one, welcome our new oat overlords. Even if they are bent on world domination, we may just be better off under that kind of innovative, adaptive, all-inclusive leadership.

Continue reading “Love Notes to Oats”