I had intended to make a farro salad, but this piece of information pushed me into new territory. I had recently been gifted a bag of whole oats from Cayuga Organics, a farm in Ithaca New York that had just started showing up at my Sunday local farmer’s market on Columbus Avenue behind the Museum of Natural History. I had already tasted Cayuga’s fabulous, meaty Jacobs Cattle Beans after my friend, food activist and HuffPo blogger extraordinaire Kerry Trueman put a bag into my hands and said, “You’ve got to try these.”
Because I was so impressed with the beans, I approached the booth and told them about my adventures in writing cookbooks, including my Beard winner, WHOLE GRAINS EVERY DAY, EVERY WAY. “Please take some of our whole oats,” said the young woman in the booth, and so I did.
The Sweetie had brought me a pint of kumquats–an ingredient that always inspires new creations, but one which I never think to buy myself– and I happened to have a big bunch of basil in the fridge left over from a recipe I had developed for an Earth Day demonstration for Nature’s Path Foods. And thus the following pretty and very tasty salad was born.
WHOLE OAT, BASIL, AND KUMQUAT SALAD
1/4 cup fruity olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups cooked whole oats (see NOTE)
1 cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 diced cucumbers, preferably Persian or English (if using standard cucumbers, scoop out seeds before dicing)
1 cup kumquats, sliced
2 cups tightly packed basil leaves, thoroughly rinsed, then torn into bits or coarsely chopped
In a large bowl, blend the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Add the oats, walnuts, cucumbers, kumquats, and basil.
Toss to evenly distribute the ingredients and coat them with the dressing.
NOTE: Cook 1 1/2 cups whole oats in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water (like pasta). After 20 minutes, start checking for doneness by cutting an oat groat in half: there should be no white dot of uncooked starch in the center. Oats will usually take about 35 minutes to cook, but timing varies from one batch to the next. When done, drain oats and rinse briefly to remove surface starch.