I must admit that I enjoy being a vegetarian. In the beginning, I struggled with feeling misplaced or left out, but once it fused into part of my identity, I embraced all of its challenges. Limited options on menus means I’ll be less overwhelmed (I’m very indecisive) and more likely to try something new (like eggplant!). Potlucks become a scavenger hunt and careful investigation to discover the meatless dishes on a long table of bacon and ground beef. Thanksgiving and Easter turn into challenging games I like to call “How to Make a Meal Out of Side Dishes.”
Potlucks, especially in Small Town, South Dakota, generally offer less than three vegetarian options (one of which is a basket of dinner rolls). The scalloped potatoes will always include diced ham. The quiche will always have bacon.
But there will always be fruit. Sometimes these fruits are in their raw form: a giant bowl of cubed watermelon or clusters of purple grapes. Other times, they’re mixed together in one bowl: berries and melons and grapes! Sometimes, they’re mixed together in a tasting “dressing,” like honey mint or lemon poppy seed or coconut lime.
The most frequent option in my neck of the woods is mixed together without the dressing. You can find that at almost any potluck, wedding reception, or high school graduation party. I originally planned to imitate this simple salad for this oatmeal recipe. However, as I was cooking the oats, a jolt of inspiration hit me in the face (or maybe that was just steam…) and influenced me to add a “dressing.” I would have loved to use some fresh mint, but I couldn’t Summons any*, so I settled for a lime-poppy seed combo instead.
I guess what I’m saying is, the possibilities are endless. I included a recipe below, but you can follow it as loosely as you please. If you check out the variations underneath, you’ll see that it’s all about combining whatever fruits you have and adding zest with additional flavors (the “dressing”). Any combination of fruit with a citrus juice could be spectacular! If you try this out, let me know what you used and how it turned out.
*Pathetic reference to Harry Potter. Bloody hell!
What you'll need:
- 1 cup milk of choice, or water
- 1/2 cup rolled oats (I use Country Choice Organic)
- 1/4 cup each of at least three different fruits (ex. grapes, melon, apples, berries)
- 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
- 1 tsp poppy seeds or 1 sprig mint leaves, chopped
- pinch of salt
How to make it:
- Bring milk (I use 1/2 c almond milk and 1/2 c water) to a boil, add oats, and reduce heat to medium.
- If using apples or another hearty fruit, add immediately.
- Once more of the liquid has absorbed, add lime or lemon juice, plus poppy seeds (or chopped mint).
- When the oatmeal is almost finished cooking, add half the amounts of any melons or delicate berries you are working with. They do not need to cook, but it's nice to have all your fruits incorporated throughout the bowl of oatmeal. Give them a gentle stir.
- When you're pleased with the consistency of the oatmeal, transfer to a bowl. Add a splash of your milk of choice, all remaining fruit, and any other additional toppings (mint leaves, nuts, chia seeds, pomegranate seeds, etc.).
“Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing” – Mash a banana or slice it into the oatmeal. Stir in 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp poppy seeds. Top with orange or clementine segments and pomegranate seeds.
“Spiced Fruit Salad” – Add some chopped apple, diced plum, and sliced banana into the oatmeal. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1/4 tsp chili powder (or chai spices). Top with dried cranberries and chia, poppy, and sesame seeds.
“Pina Colada Fruit Salad” – Cook oatmeal in coconut milk. Use 1/2 cup diced pineapple along with any other assortment of fruit. Top with shredded coconut and fruit.
“Red Fruit Salad with Orange Dressing” – Use 1/4 cup each of strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and/or plums. Cook half of each with the oatmeal, along with 1 tbsp orange juice. Top with remaining fruit.