For Sunday dinner a few weeks ago, with E and two of our friends, I wanted something that would 1) be cool(ish) since it's been pretty warm outside and 2) use up some of the pantry staples I've got on hand. This led to a quick evaluation of my pantry and noticing that I had half a bag of lentils and a lot of oat groats. I've written about oat groats before, but in case you're new to the blog and to groats, they're the unprocessed oat and cook up similar to barley or brown rice, texture wise.
In my local grocery stores, groats have also been cheaper than brown rice of late and although they don't combine with lentils or beans to create a complete protein, for most people that's not really a problem -- most of us get plenty of protein (granted with vegetarians and vegans, this can be a bit of a problem). Lately, I'm not concerned about it, because I've been making my many smoothies with vanilla soy milk (great grocery store special) and so I'm getting a fair amount of protein there, and in other places.
I baked the groats, despite the extra heat that would cause, because it meant I could also go walk the dog. You can cook them on the stove top, but this might result in them breaking up a bit more (and looking more like normal oatmeal). Aside from cooking the groats and lentils, this salad comes together quickly and can be eaten warm -- I do recommend allowing it to chill overnight though, if you've got the spare time, because it allows the flavors to blend. Do not reheat it!
This recipe was inspired by a different grain-and-lentil salad I used to make frequently just after moving to Iowa, and a salad I recently tried, from a grocery store near the coast.
The raisins add a nice sweet bite from time to time, the carrot some extra crunch, and the onion really draws the whole salad together. If you're garlic-squeamish, you can leave it out (scape season, after all, is really short), but I like the complexity it adds. The chipotle adds a slight smokey note without really adding spice.
Oat Groat and Lentil Salad with Raisins, Carrot, and Spring Onion
1 cup uncooked oat groats
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup uncooked whole lentils
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 tablespoon chipotle paste*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 cup spring (or green) onion, chopped (greens only)
1 teaspoon garlic scape, slivered (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place the oat groats, 2 1/2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes into an oven-safe baking dish that can be covered. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until groats are "to the tooth."
Meanwhile, on the stovetop, add 1 cup lentils, 2 cups water, and dried oregano to a small pot. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Stir in the chipotle paste and salt. Remove from heat.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine raisins, carrot, onion, garlic scape, and lemon juice. Add the cooked, and slightly cooled, groats and lentils, and stir to combine. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight, before serving.
*Chipotle paste: I take tinned chipotles and blender them all at once, then store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator to use as needed.
(sorry for no picture this time)