A unique salad made from one of America’s most popular cereal grains. Oats are not just for breakfast!
Oat Berry Spinach Salad is a delicious, nutritious dish made with oat groats. If you don’t know what oat groats are, you’re not alone. Rolled oats are a staple in many kitchens and an important part of the typical American diet but very few people are familiar with oat “groats”. If I had my way this would change, and if it did, I’m pretty sure oat groats would become the new quinoa!
Oat groats (also known as oat berries) are the grain kernels that remain after the inedible hulls are removed from oat stalks during harvesting. They look like big grains of rice. If you cut oat groats crosswise into two or three pieces you get steel-cut oats, sometimes called Irish oatmeal. Then, if you steam and smash the steel-cut oats, you get rolled oats – the kind we’re all familiar with. Now roll these oats even thinner and you’ll end up with quick cooking rolled oats. Although rolled oats and oat groats are essentially the same food, cooked oat groats bear little resemblance to the mush that is known as oatmeal. Maybe you like mush for breakfast – if so, I won’t judge – but trust me when I tell you that oat berries are in a league of their own. Nutty, chewy, earthy, and delicious, they are awesome in salads, such as this one, or in pilaf side dishes. You won’t be thinking of oats as a cereal grain after trying Oat Berry Spinach Salad.
I suspect the reason that oat groats are not more popular is their relatively long cooking time – usually about 1 hour on the stove-top. The outer layer of oat groats (known as the bran) is like a multi-layered skin that, when cooked, takes a long time for liquid to penetrate. However, if the oat groats are cut into pieces (i.e. steel cut oats), and the inner parts of the kernel exposed, cooking times are reduced. Steaming and rolling the oats further reduces the cooking time; the thinner the oats are rolled, the quicker they’ll cook. Please don’t let this deter you from making Oat Berry Spinach Salad. This is such an exceptional salad that the extra cooking time required is well worth it.
A huge variety of rolled oats, and to a lesser extent, steel-cut oats, line the cereal aisles at most grocery stores, but, unfortunately oat groats are not widely available. Even my regular, rather well-stocked grocery store does not carry oat groats so I buy mine either on-line or from the bulk bins at Whole Foods. I modeled Oat Berry Spinach Salad after another popular recipe I posted a while back – Chickpea Spinach Salad.
- 1 cup oat groats (also called oat berries)
- 5 ounces baby spinach, finely chopped
- 1½ cups cooked corn OR a 15.25 ounce can, drained
- ½ cup chopped scallions, white and light green parts
- 1 red pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and cut into ¼-inch dice
- 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) olive oil
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Combine the oat groats with 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 50 minutes. Drain the oats and rinse under cold running water using a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to a large bowl and add the spinach, corn, scallions, and red pepper.
- Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper and pour over the salad. Stir all the ingredients together thoroughly.
LIKE THIS RECIPE? PIN IT FOR LATER!