Bright, roasty, chewy, crunchy, herby, creamy, tangy—this addictive whole grain salad by Niki Ford has it all. Part spring tonic and all pleasure with lively flavor accents from feta, almonds, and an abundance of fresh herbs, it’s versatile enough to serve as a substantial vegetarian lunch or act as picnic provisions or a side dish for a larger meal. Oat berries, or whole oat groats, which have the same satisfying chewy meatiness of farro, minus the gluten, can be difficult to find. Look for them in health food stores or order them easily online.
- 1 cup gluten-free oat berries oat groats
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1 bunch asparagus tough ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 tablespoons toasted almonds coarsely chopped
- 4 small green onions outer layer removed and thinly sliced
- 1⁄2 cup flat-leaf parsley coarsely chopped
- 1⁄2 cup mint roughly chopped
- 3⁄4 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic pounded into a paste, finely grated, or pressed
- 3 tablespoons good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Bring 7 cups of water, the oat berries, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt to a boil in a large pot. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the oats until tender, about 12 to 14 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the oats rest in the hot water for 10 minutes. (It’s okay if some of them burst during the cooking process.) Drain the oat berries and spread out on a baking sheet to cool. Reserve.
Slice the asparagus, at a diagonal, into two-inch pieces. In a bowl, toss the asparagus with the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread the asparagus on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and roast for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned and tender. Reserve.
Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic, and then whisk in the olive oil.
In a serving bowl, toss the oat berries, asparagus, almonds, green onions, parsley, and mint with the vinaigrette. Salt to taste, top with the crumbled feta, and serve.
Photo: Maren Caruso