We're used to starting our day with bowls of oatmeal topped with raisins and maple syrup. But this wildly adaptable grain has made a leap to the savory side of the kitchen.

We thank oatmeal's versatility for contributing to the trend: You can cook it until velvety and smooth, crisp it or puff it. It's a blank canvas for flavor, from cumin to cheese, and being less nutty and milder than spelt or rye, oats yield more easily to chefs' innovations.

At Triniti in Houston, chef Ryan Hildebrand's pork collar sits on a bed of oats, flecked with butternut squash and porcini mushrooms, and the Southern-food hot spot Seersucker in Brooklyn covers a creamy oat purée in mushrooms and olive oil for a hearty vegetarian main.

But our favorite savory oat dish is the cheekily named "ris'oat'o," from Floyd Cardoz of North End Grill in Manhattan. Cardoz slow-cooks the oats in the style of risotto, then swirls in a bright-green kale purée and horseradish to finish the dish (see the recipe).

Oats, your curfew has just been pushed back.