I’ve been meaning to make some variation on “savory oatmeal” for months, ever since I came across this recipe (I can’t remember how…probably redirected from Buzzfeed or something). I took that recipe, added more vegetables and some pork (I needed a break from chicken), and substituted in whole oat groats for the oatmeal, since that’s what I had. The result was a bit like a Caribbean twist on that paella I made a while back, which is not a bad thing! Oat groats, when cooked, take on a similar texture to brown rice; there isn’t that gooeyness you get in oatmeal, which comes from the starches released when the oats are cut and/or smashed. The spice and lime mixture that coats the pork is amazing, and I wish the freshness of the lime came through more in the final dish. I’d consider adding some lime zest and/or a bit more lime juice toward the end of cooking.
As for the plantains: I first had them on a family vacation to Costa Rica when I was a kid. They were usually prepared as patacones, and served alongside gallo pinto (rice and beans) and pico de gallo. This trip was before I started liking beans and tomatoes, so the delicious, slightly sweet fried plantains were pretty much the highlight of any meal. When I saw plantains at Nasreen Dar (the local corner shop/world food market), I knew I had to try making something with them.
I wanted to find a recipe for plantains that would give me an interesting texture, that same mild sweetness, and not require frying, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with the one I found! Roasted without oil, the plantain slices puff up and get a bit crispy on the outside, while remaining sweet and tender on the inside. The only chance I’d make would be adding more spices, and maybe a sprinkling of salt over the whole sheet before baking. As is, they’re pretty great (even if you kind of burn half of them, like I did)!
Yield: 5-6 servings.
1 c oats
3 c chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 – 1/2 lb boneless lean pork chops
1 Tbsp paprika
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chile flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 (15 oz) can black beans or equivalent from scratch
2-3 handfuls frozen chopped spinach
Add oat groats and stock (I tend to dilute mine if it’s not homemade) to a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes. In the meantime…
Trim excess fat from the pork and chop into bite-sized or slightly larger pieces; move to medium bowl. In a bowl or mug, mix paprika, cumin, oregano, pepper, chile flakes, garlic, and lime juice. Pour over pork pieces and stir to coat.
Heat 1-2 tsp oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until just browned on the outside and spices are fragrant (shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes). Remove meat to a plate and pour any remaining juices and spices into the cooking oats.
Add onions (and a bit more oil if necessary) to skillet and cook at least until softened and lightly browed, about 10 minutes. (If you have time, I recommend caramelizing the onions.) Add peppers and cook until softened.
When the oats have been cooking 30-40 minutes and you have completed all the above steps, add pork, beans (drained and rinsed if from a can), onions, peppers, and frozen spinach to oats, along with 1/2 tsp cumin and salt and black pepper to taste. Continue to simmer, covered, about 10-20 minutes, until oats are completely cooked. Season to taste, stir one last time, and let sit, covered, about 5 minutes before eating.
Serving suggestion: topped with hot sauce of your choice and/or fresh cilantro. Goes well with plantains (as described below).
Adapted from Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.
1 large plantain
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp lime juice
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 400 F/205 C.
Peel the plantain: cut in half, then make an incision with the tip of a knife all the way down the length of each half. Pull back the skin along the length of the incision and it should roll off. Cut into ~1/4-inch thick slices and toss with lime juice, salt, and spices. Arrange in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping pieces over halfway through, until puffed up and slightly crispy.
Serving suggestion: warm out of the oven, on their own, or as a side/prelude to a Caribbean or Latin American meal.