The connection between oats and Yiftah Bareket’s cooking secrets isn’t immediately obvious. Yes, oats are known for giving a pleasant and long-lasting feeling of satiety, apparently due to their high fiber content. They are also said to have many healthy qualities – helping to maintain cardiac health, strengthening the immune system, preventing Type 2 diabetes, helping lower blood pressure and cholesterol. But despite all this, we don’t often think of uses for them beyond making oatmeal.
Bareket, a baker, cook and culinary instructor, excels at complex recipes that require skill, time and a bit of boldness. I asked him to focus specifically on this grain, one that is normally associated with simple, casually prepared foods, and save it from its bland oatmeal stereotype.
Bareket happily took on the challenge and came up with three dishes: a first course, main course and dessert. Each one, especially the first course, is a rich and complex creation. I couldn’t present his oat terrine recipe in its entirety, for it involves multiple stages and lengthy preparation. Instead, here is an abridged version that approximates the original. All three recipes prove the wealth of possibilities to be found in oats.
1 bunch Swiss chard
3 tbsp olive oil
4 round sweet red peppers, halved, cleaned of seeds and pith, roasted in the oven (cut side down), cooled and peeled
1 mashed garlic clove
1 tsp sumac
pinch of salt
30 rosemary needles
leaves from 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
4 tbsp capers preserved in salt, soaked in cold water for half an hour, drained and rinsed once more in cold water
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 ½ cups oat flakes
4 cups water
2 tbsp mustard seed
½ cup good quality raw tehina
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp Atlantic sea salt
¾ cup (75 gr) toasted and chopped walnuts
2 tbsp fresh hyssop leaves
Prepare the layer of peppers:
Gently mix the peppers with the garlic, sumac, two tablespoons of olive oil, pinch of salt and rosemary. Set aside for two hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Prepare the chard wrapping:
Rinse the chard leaves very well, cut off the white stalks and keep only the green leaves. Blanch the leaves in boiling water for 20 seconds, remove them from the pot immediately, rinse in cold water, drain and let dry.
Prepare the oats:
Cook oats in the water until the cereal thickens, then simmer and stir over low heat for five minutes. Add the salt and turmeric. Continue stirring and add the maple syrup, mustard seed and tehina. Simmer over low heat for two more minutes, turn off the heat and immediately add the walnuts and hyssop. Stir, taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Then get ready to assemble the terrine.
Assembling the terrine:
Prepare a loaf pan – it’s best to use a paper pan that will fit inside a metal one. Lightly grease the paper pan with olive oil and arrange the chard leaves on the bottom so they overlap the sides.
Place a 1-cm layer of the oat mixture on top and flatten with a damp spatula. Arrange a layer of peppers on top so that they cover the oatmeal but leave a narrow margin all around.
Place another 1-cm layer of oatmeal atop the peppers; then sprinkle on a layer of parsley and then the capers.
Place another 1-cm layer of oatmeal in the pan and then another layer of peppers.
Place the final layer of oatmeal, flatten with a damp spatula, then cover the top layer of oatmeal with the chard leaves that overlapped the sides of the pan. Brush the top with olive oil, set aside and let cool, or refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and bake the terrine for 15-20 minutes.
Let it cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm or cold.
Whole oat casserole with mushrooms
Here Bareket chose to combine the whole oats with mushrooms, which are also known for their strengthening and balancing properties. This boldly flavored dish is quite filling. It goes well with a salad of greens or cucumbers.
2 cups whole oats (available at health food stores), rinsed well, soaked in cold water for at least an hour, and drained (Bareket saves the liquid for drinking and recommends that everyone do the same).
½ cup dry shitake mushrooms, blanched in boiling water; turn off heat and cover pot until soft
½ cup dry maitake mushrooms, prepared as above
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 cup peeled and grated
2-3 medium carrots, peeled
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 tsp thyme
3-cm piece of licorice root
5 juniper berries
½ tbsp olive oil
½ tsp Atlantic sea salt
Drain the mushrooms and preserve the liquid. Trim off the stems and slice the mushrooms thinly. Heat the olive oil in a pot, spreading the oil to cover the bottom. Add the onion, salt and thyme and saute, covered, over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Add the parsnip, the other seasonings and the mushrooms (set a few slices aside for garnish).
Stir and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes.
Add the oats and stir. Add the soy sauce to the liquid from the mushrooms, then add enough water to make two and a half cups of liquid, and add this to the pot.
Add the whole carrots, cover the pot, bring to a boil, then lower the flame and simmer until the grains are soft and the liquid has all been absorbed or evaporated (about 30 minutes).
Remove the carrots and set them aside. Fill a small bowl with some of the mixture, flip the bowl onto an individual serving plate and garnish with some of the mushrooms that were set aside. Slice the carrots into thin diagonal slices and arrange around the edge of the plate. Repeat for each serving.
Oat pastry cups
You can fill these with just about anything you like. Bareket’s filling of fruit and prune whip is just one of many options.
For the pastry cups:
220 gr oat flour
½ cup water
3 tbsp (60 gr) almond butter
1 ½ tbsp. (25 gr) date honey
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp licorice powder
A pinch of salt
In a bowl, knead the ingredients with the water until a uniform mixture is formed. Cover and refrigerate for at least a half hour. With moist hands, divide the dough into 15 balls and line the sides of a muffin tin with them, to create dough bowls 2-3 mm thick. Pierce the bottoms with a fork.
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes and then let cool completely. Remove pastry cups from the tin and fill each one with fruit and prune and nut cream (see below). You will need 1 tbsp fruit, such as sweet grapes or pitted cherries, for each pastry cup.
For the prune and nut cream:
100 gr pitted prunes, soaked in water overnight and drained (preserve the liquid)
50 gr walnuts, soaked in water overnight and drained
40 gr cashews, soaked in water overnight and drained
2 tbsp of the prune liquid
1 tbsp carob syrup
½ tbsp carob powder
½ tbsp lemon juice
¼ vanilla stick – inside only
1 tbsp liquid coconut oil (in summer it is usually liquid; if not, melt it in a bain-marie)
Place all ingredients except the coconut oil in a blender and blend at high speed until totally smooth. Gradually add the coconut oil.
Fill a pastry bag with a ribbed tip with the cream and refrigerate it for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, place a tablespoon of fruit in each pastry cup and decorate with the cream.