When we decided to make tabbouleh salad with steel cut oats instead of bulgur, the grain normally used to make tabbouleh, we knew that we wanted nice, separate grains, so we went with the pour-over cooking method.
If you’ve only ever eaten steel cut oats for breakfast, maybe you’ve only tried one way to cook them. Let us guess – on the stovetop in your favorite oatmeal pot with your favorite wooden spoon, while wearing your favorite slippers? How did we know?
That was us before we started experimenting with steel cut oats and, full disclosure, some rules were broken. We’ve found that just by changing up the cooking method, we can bring out different qualities in the oats and use them in some surprising ways!
If you want distinct grains like we did, the pour-over method is perfect. The grains not only held their shape, but had a satisfying, chewy texture and mixed beautifully with the bold dressing, fresh veggies and riot of herbs. Plus, by toasting the oats first, we brought out their natural nuttiness, making them a brilliant substitute for bulgur in this delicious salad.
Try it yourself! In a large skillet over medium high heat, toast steel cut oats for five minutes, shaking and stirring constantly. Transfer to a bowl, pour-over an equal amount of boiling water and a good pinch of salt, then cover and let stand for 15-20 minutes. Once the oats have absorbed all of the water, fluff with a fork. That’s it!
Now you have beautiful, distinct grains, ready to be turned into a hearty salad, stuffed in a pepper or made into this glorious Golden Oat Pilaf. Really, anywhere you would use rice, cous cous, bulgur, barley, farro, wheat berries or quinoa, you can use steel cut oats cooked in this method.
But, let’s say you want deliciously creamy oats. Cooking steel cut oats on the stove as you would cook Arborio rice in this Oat Risotto with Parmesan and Peas yields excellent results – by the time the oats are tender, the near-constant stirring has made them creamy and silky.
Whether you cook your oats on the stove-top, or in a rice cooker or instant-pot, your ratio of oats to water remains the same at 1:3 (one part oats to three parts water). Always be sure to give your oats lots of room to bubble up and expand.
There are dozens of ways to enjoy steel cut oats – either as a substitute for other grains, or even as a hearty and delicious side dish. Simply stir in a little butter and a sprinkle of fresh herbs into creamy steel cut oats, and serve as you would mashed potatoes for a satisfying side.
However you decide to cook your steel cut oats, we’re sure you’ll like the results.
- 2 cups steel cut oats (500 ml)
- 2 cups water boiling (500 ml)
- 1/2 tsp salt (2.5 ml)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice fresh (60 ml)
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest (2.5 ml)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (60 ml)
- salt to taste
- black pepper freshly ground, to taste
- 1 cucumber large English cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, quartered or chopped
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 cup parsley finely chopped (250 ml)
- 1/2 cup mint fresh, finely chopped (125 ml)
To cook oats:
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, toast oats for 5 minutes, shaking and stirring constantly.
- Transfer to a bowl, pour-over boiling water and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and let stand for 25-30 minutes, or until oats have absorbed all of the water. Fluff with fork.
To make dressing:
- Whisk together lemon juice and zest, garlic and olive oil.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The oats will mellow the dressing, so don’t worry if it’s bold.)
- Combine warm oats with dressing, cover and refrigerate one hour.
To assemble salad:
- Stir in cucumber, tomato, scallions and fresh herbs.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.