Holiday weekends at my house remind me of two things: Tel Aviv Airport, with its zillions of people trying to get through security, which takes about 3 hours, and a scene from the movie The Godfather where Connie, crying her eyes out, calls her mother, who holds a baby on her hip while she stirs a pot of sauce and people are talking and kids are screaming and no one can hear anything.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a balagon, to be sure, but worth everything because I get to see my kids and grandkids and despite the noise (when you get older you forget that children up to a certain age cry at least once a day) and the mess and the unbelievable amount of fruit we go through, I love every fatiguing minute of it and look forward to the next one.
When that many people come to the house (we are 6 adults and 4 children ages 14 months through age 10), you have to keep the food simple. So we do. We’ve managed to work out the kinds of stuff we like to eat over the years although we have some differences among us. But we all like Spinach Pie and Grand Finale Cookies (both from my book, Hip Kosher) and salads, depending on the season. We had end-of-summer tomato salad during the Labor Day weekend (tomatoes, basil, avocado, lime juice and olive oil) and corn on the cob and grilled stuff.
We also like salads made with whole grains. My daughter Gillian recently suggested that I experiment with oat groats, so I made this salad, which seemed to go over well and was really easy to cook. You can make the dish with any cooked whole grain. I consider oats somewhat sweeter than, say, farro or bulgur, so I liked the idea of including carrots and raisins, which are on the sweet side.
Don’t pay attention to the package instructions for cooking the groats. Most instructions for whole grains call for too much water and too much time, which make the grains mushy.
Oat Groats Salad with Carrots and Raisins
1 cup oat groats
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3-4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, optional
3 tablespoons olive oil;
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the oat groats in a saucepan, cover with 2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 35 minutes or until the groats are tender but still a bit chewy. If there is any remaining water, strain the groats to discard the water. Spoon the groats into a bowl. Cook the carrots for 3-5 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain and add to the groats. Add the scallions, raisins and herb, if used and stir the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour in the olive oil and vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings