In my humble opinion, radishes are greatly under-appreciated, as are whole oat berries. So this colorful summer salad celebrates them both!
If you’ve never cooked with oat berries, you’ve been missing out. While pricey quinoa grown halfway around the globe has become uber-trendy, good old oats have been here all along, grown all over the local countryside. Not only are oats local, but they rival quinoa and other whole grains in nutrient content.
Oat berries, also known as “oat groats”, consist of the whole oat grain, before it’s rolled flat into the familiar breakfast porridge cereal we know. As a whole grain, oat berries can be cooked just as you would farro or wheat berries, which is to say you cook it like pasta in a big pot of salted boiling water. It takes a while to cook, up to an hour, but by soaking the grain overnight, the cooking time is reduced and the digestibility of an already highly digestible grain is increased. Once the grain is cooked to perfection (it should be chewy, not mushy or crunchy) it is drained. And I like to also rinse it well in cold water. (Without a good rinse, oats can have a cloudy and slightly viscous residue from the cooking water and the texture can be a bit reminiscent of porridge, which doesn’t lend itself well to salads and other uses). When cooked to perfection and rinsed well, oat berries lend themselves beautifully to grain and vegetable salads. You can also serve them as a substitute for rice.
In terms of nutrition, oat berries are high in protein, high in fiber, and rich in minerals like iron and phosphorus. Oats are also highly digestible and gluten-free. I recommend buying organically-grown oats whenever possible since conventionally-grown oats are sprayed with glyphosate herbicide just days before harvest, leaving behind residues that frequently show up at high levels in pesticide residue tests.
As for radishes, they come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors! I recommend buying them at your local farmer’s market. Chances are they will be freshly harvested (ie: more crunch and flavor!) and they are likely to come in more interesting varieties than the uniform grocery store red radishes. Not that there’s anything wrong with a lovely round red radish, but it’s fun to explore the multitude of radish varieties out there.
In the spring, I love growing an assortment of purple, pink, red, and white radishes in my garden. And in the fall, I like to grow the larger radish varieties like watermelon radish and daikon. I use them in salads, pickles, and they’re delicious roasted in the oven! And as you’ll see in the video, my chickens love to snack on the leaves, so it’s a great crop all around for everyone.
I hope you enjoy this simple summer salad and that you feel inspired to experiment with whole oat berries!
Radish and Oat Berry Summer Salad
Radishes are greatly under-appreciated, as are whole oat berries. This colorful summer salad celebrates them both! Read more about this recipe in this Kitchen Vignettes post.
- 1 1/2 cup whole oat berries (or sub any whole grain: einkorn, farro, wheat berries)
- 1 bunch asparagus (or one medium cucumber if asparagus is no longer in season)
- 2 bunches radishes (about 2 cups chopped)
- 1 cup fresh herbs, loosely chopped (dill, mint, basil or parsley)
- 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, cooked and drained
- 4 oz. feta, cubed or crumbled
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Juice of 2 lemons (1/4 cup)
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- Salt & Pepper
- Prepare the whole grain:
Whole grain berries are cooked like pasta. I like to soak my grains overnight because it reduces the cooking time and increases digestibility, but this is optional. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Rinse and drain the whole grain (whether you soaked it overnight or not) and add it to the boiling water. Cook until grains are tender but not mushy, ideally they should have a nice chew to them, but no crunch. It will take about 30 to 45 minutes if you soaked the grain overnight, and around an hour if you didn’t soak it. Check and taste it often. Once it’s done, drain the grains and rinse them well in cold water. Allow the water to drain completely before using the grains.
- Prepare the vegetables:
Steam the asparagus lightly for about 2 minutes and then rinse under cold water. Chop into medium pieces. Slice the radishes thinly. In a large bowl, combine the chopped asparagus, sliced radishes, cooked and drained corn kernels, chopped herbs, and the cooked grains.
- Prepare the vinaigrette and assemble:
Mix all the vinaigrette ingredients into a lidded jar. Close tightly and shake well. Pour half the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients and taste. Add the remaining vinaigrette if it’s needed. Season with salt and pepper, taste, and adjust as needed. Once all the flavors are just the way you like them, top the salad with the crumbled feta and it’s ready to serve!
Yield: 4-6 servings
Aube Giroux is a food writer, a James Beard award-winning documentary filmmaker and a passionate organic gardener and home cook, who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.