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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple and Sloe Overnight Oats Cake

We’ve had a pot of sloes in the fridge destined for Sloe Gin but the requisite gin has yet to be bought. Needing to use them up, I wondered if baking would make these mouth-puckeringly sour fruit more edible.

So I added the sloes to an oat-based cake I’ve been trying out using Grown in Totnes oats. Surprisingly they lost much of their astringent sharpness and were a lovely addition to this cake which I’ve also made with blackberry and apple and roasted rhubarb.

If de-stoning sloe sounds way too fiddly, you could just use apple in the cake. Then make a simple syrup with the sloes and pour over the top. As the last wild fruit of the season, it feels good to use what we have growing around us.

 

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Ingredients

  • 150g oats
  • 150ml milk (any kind)
  • 175g sugar
  • 175g butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 175g flour (I used spelt)
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 2-300g apple, chopped
  • 100g sloes, stones removed

Method

  • Put the oats in a bowl and cover with the milk. Leave to soak for an hour or so, or overnight
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Cream the butter and sugar
  • Add the eggs and beat together
  • Add the flour and baking powder and mix well
  • Fold in the apple and sloes
  • Pour the batter into a large prepared cake tin (22cm). Top with sliced apple or sloes.
  • Bake for 1hr – 1&1/4 hrs or until a skewer comes out clean
  • Leave to cool slightly before turning out

 

A little bit more…..

If you’ve forgotten to get the butter out of the fridge, as I frequently do, you could also melt the butter with the sugar in a pan over a gentle heat first. Leave to cool slightly before adding the eggs then continue as above

Any fruit can be used, sharp flavours work well with the oats

Vanilla, cinnamon or ginger add lovely additional  flavours

This works well as a tray bake, halving the baking time to around 30mins