Oats are a greatly underused grain.  The collective imagination doesn’t seem to perceive much further than oatmeal, with whole groats mostly overlooked in favor of barley, wheat berries, kamut, bulger, etc.  I, myself, had been guilty of the oversight for years, until I discovered this amazing recipe, which I adapted from one provided by Maria Speck.  The oats don’t taste like oatmeal, nor do they have a similar texture.  They have their own unique essence.  Now that I’ve discovered how fantastic they are, I plan to devise many more recipes using them.

          As whole grain salads go, this one is nearly perfect.  At least for us.  Paulo and I adore blue cheese and olives.  This salad creates a warm, earthy matrix upon which to present those tasty items.  The wonderfully meaty grains counterbalance the pungent cheese and olives, while the crunch of the walnuts provides a contrasting texture.  Herbal thyme adds another hint of complexity.  So very delicious.  I usually encourage people to alter recipes, to add or substitute other ingredients, etc.  But I wouldn’t make that recommendation in this case.  This salad is so perfectly balanced, that changing any element might skew it.  Try it the way it is.  You’ll develop an entirely new appreciation for the humble little oat berry.

Warm Oat Berry Salad with Blue Cheese and Olives

1 cup whole oats (oat groats)

1 T olive oil

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)

2/3 cup green olives, coarsely chopped or sliced

2 tsp red wine vinegar

4 oz pungent blue cheese, crumbled

          Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the oats and simmer until they are cooked through.  Drain well.

          In the meantime heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the walnuts, thyme, and a little salt, and saute until the walnuts are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.  (Stir fairly often so that the nuts don’t scorch.)  Add the drained oats and olives, along with some freshly cracked black pepper.  Cook, stirring, until all ingredients are heated through.  Remove from the heat.  Sprinkle the vinegar over top.

          Sprinkle the cheese over top and gently fold the cheese into the oats.  (You will want the cheese to melt somewhat into the salad, but still retain some noticeable pieces.)  Add salt only if needed.  (Most cheese, as well as olives, are fairly salty.)  Add more black pepper, if desired, to taste.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Savory Nut Bread Pudding

          This is a great fun recipe, provided by Chris Brazier and Pat Tope via Troth Wells.  Quick and simple to make, concocted of ingredients that can be found knocking about most kitchens, you can make it on the spur of the moment with little to no planning.  But, despite ease of preparation, it is almost elegant in its own Read entire post

Rice Noodle Salad with Miso Dressing

          This is a great, fun, refreshing spring salad.  Delicate rice noodles are mixed with veggies, tossed with miso dressing, and set off with a roasted peanut-y crunch.  Yum!  I hesitate to say this, because it sounds boringly healthful, but the salad, in addition to being fantastic, is also vegan and gluten-free.  (Did you cringe for a moment?  I thought Read entire post

Apr 302014
Best Banana Bread

           Banana bread?  Banana bread?????  I know what you’re thinking.  Yet another other nother recipe for banana bread?  Are you kidding?  I don’t blame you.  I would have thought the same thing.  Until I made this particular banana bread.  It is so far superior to any other I’ve ever made or eaten, that I was simply forced to post the Read entire post

Irish Lettuce, Pea, and Potato Soup

          I never really think about lettuce having flavor.  Texture, maybe, but not taste in its own right.  It seems more like a neutral backdrop, a matrix upon which other, more vibrant flavors can be added.  This assumption of mine would be wrong, it turns out.           When I first saw this recipe by Coleman Andrews, I thought of spring.  Read entire post

Sweet Chili Stir-Fry with Asian Spiced Polenta

          I owe you all a belated hello!  I’ve been away from this site for a while, but for a good cause.  Paulo and I started a business last year, and it has been going very well, even better than we had hoped.  For that reason my time has been limited.  But we have continued to eat tasty vittles, and Read entire post

Spinach Salad with Gingered Pears and Polenta Croutons

          This, like my last post, is a lovely fall salad.  Fresh, bright, cool but with a hint of warmth, the salad with its varying flavors and textures forms a deliciously disparate yet coherent whole.  Here in the mountains at this time of year, our thoughts usually turn to great pots of thickly bubbling substances.  Paulo and I have been Read entire post

Fennel Apple Slaw with Coconut Cream

          This is a wonderful fall salad.  Made with seasonal ingredients, it exudes a cool freshness that seems more spring-like than autumnal.  Delicious though it may be, creamily decadent with its silky coconut dressing, it aligns with many dietary restrictions:  raw, vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, gluten-free, etc.  And it can be made in about 10 minutes.  I haven’t found many recipes Read entire post

Butternut Squash Tabbouleh with Herbed Feta

          I love perusing cookbooks of all kinds, searching both for fantastic recipes and for general inspiration.  But seldom does any one cookbook thrill me in its entirety, inducing me to try recipe after recipe from within it.  The last cookbook that struck me that way was Marcus Samuelsson’s Soul of a New Cuisine, mentioned in my 2011 post African Read entire post

Sep 282013
Sunshine Muffins

          Vegan, fat-free muffins?  Trust me, I know what you’re thinking.  I was skeptical myself that such a concoction could taste good, much less wonderful.  But seeing this recipe by Lindsay Nixon, I had to try it.  Chock-full of juicy pineapple, I figured it couldn’t be too bad.  And I added nuts for extra flavor and crunch, though their inclusion Read entire post

Linguine with Caramelized Onions and Anchovies

          This linguine is delicious.  Given that it contains copious quantities of onions, however, along with a scattering of anchovies, it may not be to everyone’s liking.  Paulo and I happen to be huge fans of onions, especially caramelized onions, so this recipe, adapted from one provided by Maria Speck, makes us very happy.  And the anchovies, they aren’t readily Read entire post

Pesto Beans with Greens

           Beans (legumes) get a bad rap.  They are ridiculously good for you, they are tasty and have a nicely meaty texture, but they’ve never caught on with many people in the U.S. as a regular centerpiece of weekly meals.  If you’ve been wanting to add more legumes to your diet but weren’t sure how, this is a great recipe Read entire post

Creamy Wheat Berry Salad with Summer Veggies

          This salad tastes like summer.  Fresh, cool, and creamy, it has a wonderfully subtle flavor that somehow complements whatever is served on the plate adjacent.  It’s also delicious all by itself, a vegan dish that tastes naughtily luscious.  Really!           Most recipes, I create nearly on whim.  A particular ingredient or seasoning strikes my fancy, and my imagination creates Read entire post

Curried Pasta and Potatoes

          This is most excellent comfort food.  Warm, rich, hearty, and fragrant.  I love watching Paulo as he breathes in the aroma and takes a first bite.  His sheer pleasure and contentment are lovely to behold.  Warm though this dish may be, we love making it even in August.  Wonderful, fresh vegetables abound at the local market.  Curries are always Read entire post

Roasted Pecan Butter

          Has this ever happened to you?  Has something never occurred to you, and then one day it suddenly does, and then it seems so obvious that your failure to think of it previously seems absolutely baffling?  This recipe represents my latest long-overdue culinary eureka.           I grew up with peanut butter.  As a kid, I was given a peanut Read entire post

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