Oat Risotto with Wild Garlic, Roasted Squash and Feta

I’ve called this a risotto but it’s probably more like a warm salad. Groats are the whole oat grain containing the germ and bran similar to wheat or spelt berries. Once cooked they have a satisfying chewy consistency. If you can, it’s best to soak the groats for several hours or overnight before cooking (don’t worry if not, although you might need to cook for an extra 5 minutes or so). I’m using groats grown just a few miles away produced by Grown In Totnes, otherwise, Hodmedods also sell them nationally.

I usually make this with spinach and garlic, but as we’re in mid wild garlic season here I’ve used that instead. (Wild garlic is definitely delayed this year by the unexpected snow we’ve had, the flowers aren’t even out yet in April!)

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium squash (kabocha, crown prince or butternut)
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 200g oat groats, rinsed
  • vegetable stock or water
  • A couple of handfuls of wild garlic, well washed
  • 100g feta

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Scrub the squash, then cut into bite-sized chunks. No need to peel.
  • Place in a baking tray, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix. Bake for around 20 minutes until soft.
  • In a large pan heat some olive oil and gently fry the onion until nice and soft, 5-10 minutes is good.
  • Add the groats, coat in the onion and oil. Cover with vegetable stock and cook over a medium heat until soft, it will take about 20 minutes. The stock should mostly be absorbed.
  • Turn off the heat. Add the wild garlic and mix to wilt. Scatter over the roasted squash and dot with feta. You can put back in the oven for 5 minutes to warm through, or even better pop under the grill to lightly brown the feta.

A bit more…..

  • As the basic recipe is cooking the groats in stock like a risotto, you can add any vegetable or meat that you have to hand
  • Use chicken stock or add a splash of wine, even finish with cream if you like!
  • Leek and celery are good instead of or as well as onion
  • Replace the squash with roasted garlicky fennel, season with thyme and lemon zest
  • Use a locally produced soft goats or sheep’s cheese instead of feta
  • Any greens can be used, sturdier leaves such as kale may need a little cooking
  • Some lardons can be a good addition to the mix for non-veggies
  • Vegans can replace the feta with some capers and toasted nuts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oat Berry Salad with Mayo Yoghurt Dressing

 

 

 

During the summer term at St John’s Primary School, I ran a Friday afternoon cookery club based around cooking with vegetables. Food in Community is a local charity that collects surplus organic produce, mainly from Riverford, and redistributes it to community groups and organisations. They kindly donated a box to the cooking club each week.  This means what we cook depends largely on what we get.

Initially, the box came on a Thursday giving me a day to plan for the Friday club. Then it changed arriving on the day, about 30-40 minutes before we started, so I really had to think on my feet.

One week I decided we’d make something using oat groats or oat berries from Grown In Totnes. When cooked they have a wonderfully soft, chewy texture which works really well with lots of crunchy veg in a salad. To make it a little more appealing for the children I created a competition, with the winning recipe to be published online (ie here…).

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We had a lovely mixed box of veg that day and a variety of ingredients to make a dressing. I encourage kids to cook without a recipe and to experiment with flavours. We’d been looking at the five tastes and thinking about these when we cook as well as different ways to cut and prepare veg.

The three teams came up with a tomato dressing, yoghurt and mint and yoghurt and mayo combos, all were delicious. We called on Mrs Connolly to do a blind tasting and choose a winner! It was incredibly close but the winning recipe was…..

Oat Berry Salad with Mayo Yoghurt Dressing

Recipe by Jaz Davey and Poppy Bastin

Salad Ingredients

  • 300g Oat groats
  • 400-500g vegetables: they used tomato, pepper, carrot, broad beans, finely chopped cabbage and spinach, and celery

Dressing – quantities very approximate

  • 3 tbs Olive oil
  • 1 tbs White wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs Mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs Natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbs Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey or sugar
  • Salt and Pepper

(Had garlic come in the box, they would have used that, too!)

Method

  • Cook the oat groats in a pan of water for about 30 mins until soft. Rinse, drain and leave to cool.
  • Cut or chop your vegetables. Blanche the broad beans and slip them out of their skins.
  • Add the dressing ingredients to a jar, whisk with a fork to combine.
  • Put the oat groats in a large serving bowl with the vegetables. Pour over the dressing and gently mix.