Savoury Steel-Cut Oats with Ramps, Parmesan and Tamari

As a child, I can remember my dad occasionally stirring a spoonful of Marmite and a splash of Tamari soy sauce into his morning bowl of oatmeal. At the time, such a combination was of no interest to me, so content was I with a drizzle of honey and a pour of goats milk in mine.

However, I now see the appeal, after a recent success – nay, revelation – with a bowl of savoury steel-cut oats. My dad was onto something, with his decidedly bold umami flavourings first thing in the morning. A man ahead of his time, as savoury oats, kasha, and all sorts of breakfast bowls are trendy right now.

Our family has always been a champion of oatmeal (cookies, muffins, bread, breakfast, cake, scones, baked, instant…) and we are continuing the obsession with today’s Savoury Steel-Cut Oats with Ramps, Parmesan and Tamari.

Savoury Steel-Cut Oats with Ramps, Parmesan and Tamari :: Simple Bites #breakfast #vegan #recipe

All week long I’ve been cooking from the oh-so-lovely cookbook Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day, authored by my friend, and fellow Canadian mama, Tara. Each and every recipe has been life-altering in a small, but important way. Here I’ve been cooking ever day of my life for at least twenty years, and Tara is still schooling me. This is why I will forever buy, use and love cookbooks – to further a life-long education on food.

I’ll try and briefly share in an upcoming ‘weekend links’ post about what I’ve been making, because for now we’re going to focus on these savoury oats because they are worthy of our full attention. They are heavily inspired by Tara’s recipe for Savory Steel-Cut Oats with Cheese and Spinach, which she tops with her Soused Tomatoes (in garlic, herbs and spices. oh my!).

I didn’t have fresh tomatoes as I don’t buy them out of season, but I did have ramps. The very first of the year. Clara and I donned slickers and rain boots and walked, oh about 50 paces into the back yard to what I call my ‘wild garden’. It’s a sizable patch of trilliums, edible trout lilies, and wild leeks or ramps that I semi-cultivate and have seen them thrive over the years.

Wild ramps in the forest

A small handful of ramp greens (no bulbs, please) as all we needed. I wished for fresh spinach as I passed my raised garden beds, but I won’t have it for at least another month. Patience! Back in the kitchen I simmered and stirred the oats, finishing with organic baby spinach (purchased) and freshly grated parmesan.

Just this trio would have been spectacular, but I chopped the ramps and added a splash of tamari on top. Absolutely the best thing I’ve had in a long time. The creamy, mild oats are the ideal vessel for the garlicky ramps and salty soy sauce. It satiates every comfort food craving – and remains relatively healthy to boot. Here’s a dish that hits many of today’s healthy buzz words – gluten-free, vegetarian, whole grain – and yet is utterly reputable as just darn good food.

So, I made these savoury oats twice. Once for a week-day lunch, when I shot these images, and then again the next day for breakfast, topped, as you can probably guess, with a fried egg. Oh my gosh. Even better. Danny later told me that the saddest part of his day was brushing his teeth before work because “then the flavour was all gone.”

Savoury breakfast bowls are here to stay; I might even bust out the Marmite.

Savoury Steel-Cut Oats with Ramps, Parmesan and Tamari :: Simple Bites #breakfast #vegan #recipe

Savoury Steel-Cut Oats with Ramps, Parmesan and Tamari

Jump start the day with a healthy bowl of comfort food that satiates all your salty cravings. Adapted from Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Breakfast & Brunch
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Aimee - adapted from Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady


  • 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves or to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 teaspoons Tamari soy sauce or to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4-6 fresh ramp greens and stems roughly chopped


  • To make the oatmeal, in a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the oats and stir them around in the butter until they smell a bit nutty, 3 minutes or so. Carefully pour in the water (it will steam vehemently) and bring to a boil, stirring all the while.
  • When the oats start to bubble heavily at the edge, about 15 minutes or so, sprinkle in the salt. Keep stirring for 5 to 7 minutes more, until the oats are distinct but creamy and tender. (At this point you can serve up any plain oats for young eaters, because the savoury ingredients are going in next.)
  • Toss in the baby spinach and stir until it is wilted. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and mix well.
  • Divide the oats among bowls. Top with a handful of ramps, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of Tamari. Finish with the remaining cheese and enjoy at once.


This recipe yields enough oats for four small bowls, and the savoury ingredients are all added at the end. My boys and maple syrup are inseparable, so I scoop out their plain portion first, and then doctor the rest up for Danny and I.
If you're cooking for two or few, make a full recipe of oats, only set aside half at the end of Step 2. Keep them refrigerated for up to 4 days and reheat in a pot with a splash more water.


Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 476mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 5g | Vitamin A: 1755IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 2.4mg


What’s your savoury breakfast go-to?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I love the idea of a savoury bowl of oats and the flavours you’ve used here sound just wonderful. Tara’s book is waiting for me at home today. I can’t wait to get back from work and jump straight in!

  2. This is so inspired Aimee. Love it and hearing about your trend setting Dad. Why no bulbs? I always use them, am I doing something wrong or are they just too strong for this recipe? Just curious.

    • Good question, Katie. It’s to protect the species, really. You should just pick one leaf per plant and leave the bulb in the ground to have a plant that keeps on producing. Occasionally I’ll thin a particularly tight patch (bulb and all) and I find that helps with the patch expansion, but as a general rule don’t rip the entire bulb from the ground. And don’t buy any ramps that have roots attached either. In fact, give those sellers heck. 😉

  3. I adore savoury oats – one of my favourite’s is sesame!

  4. This sounds heavenly! Do you have any alternative suggestions for those of us without access to ramps?

  5. I love savory oats and have a recipe on my blog as well. I am going to try a version of yours next it sounds amazing!

  6. This is such a neat recipe!! Love the savoury aspect to this oatmeal. Mmm mmm.

  7. Oh! This is so exciting! I planted ramps last year and they are up — I’m not picking any until next year so they continue to grow. If I just snip off the green would that still save my ramps? At first I turned up my nose at savory oats but I’m still learning and I’ll try just about anything — not rodents or insects. Thank you for the great idea.

    • Marisa, just snipping one leaf per plant is recommended. How amazing that you are cultivating them yourself.
      Hope you try the savoury oats. Let me know what you think!

  8. this sounds like the kind of bowl to wake up for 🙂
    and how awesome is it that you have a lil patch of ramps in your back yard?!?

  9. I just bought a copy of seven spoons! I definitely can’t wait for it to arrive and begin cooking from it.. I definitely need to start with these steel cut oats though – I’ve never tried savoury oats before!

  10. You’re totally on to something here!! I love the idea of a savory oatmeal .. YUM!! And such a gorgeous looking meal 🙂

  11. Hmm, I am still not sold on savoury oats. It doesn’t help that I’ve had a couple of disastrous attempts involving regular large flake oats and nutritional yeast…bleh. I will definitely give these a shot. I am thinking of adding walnut pieces for additional crunch!

    • Marie, I literally shuddered when I read ‘nutritional yeast’. Sounds like you need a Round 2. Thanks for trusting me! And walnuts sound like an ideal addition.

  12. Mmmmm this sounds amazing!

  13. Love steel cut oats. I actually snagged a huge bag from my brother a couple years ago because he bought them and didn’t like them. I thought he was nuts! I grabbed the bag and ate steel cut oats for days and days and days, and I never got bored!
    I can’t wait to give this recipe a try (and drool over everything in that book) 😉

  14. You’ve totally inspired me. I always make more of a sweet oatmeal base, rather than a savory one. Let’s hope I can get my daughter to eat it as well!

  15. 5 stars
    Savoury oatmeal and buckwheat porridge have been our staples for a while. I would love to take the credit for being original but I am just following my “growing up in Russia” ways. I prefer both oats and buckwheat that way actually, especially buckwheat mixed with caramelised onions, mushrooms and topped with a fried egg. That’s been a classic in my family for generations.

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