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MARGARET PROUSE: Treasures from the cupboard

Food columnist Margaret Prouse says there are plenty of ingredients in kitchen cupboards that can turn into delicious meals.
Food columnist Margaret Prouse says there are plenty of ingredients in kitchen cupboards that can turn into delicious meals. - 123RF Stock Photo

Everything from pastas and noodles to beans and rice work in lots of recipes

Continuing with my “use what you have” plan for 2019, I took stock of the cupboard where I keep pasta, grains and legumes. Unbelievable!

There are bits of so many things, such as remainders of packages purchased for something specific and then abandoned. I found lasagna noodles, spaghetti, orzo, rice noodles and chow mein noodles. There were red, brown and green split lentils, as well as beluga lentils, yellow split peas, pot barley, millet, popcorn, chickpeas, black eyed peas, pinto beans, white kidney beans, red kidney beans, black beans and fava beans. I also found kasha (buckwheat groats), long grain and short grain white rice, long grain brown rice and oat groats.

I’ll be working these into our meals over the coming weeks, as they are doing no good sitting in the cupboard.

The first item I used was the oat groats. They are whole oat kernels without hulls. Unlike regular oats from which the hull must be removed after harvest, the hulls on this particular kind of oats open at harvest time, allowing the groat or kernel plus all of the oat bran to pop out.

Oat groats can be used to replace rice or quinoa. The recipe I used, courtesy of New Brunswick’s Speerville Flour Mill, is a substantial and flavourful grain salad with Mediterranean flavours.

Oat Groat Mediterranean Salad

Adapted from recipe shared by Speerville Flour Mill

500 mL (2 cups) oat groats

2 mL (½ tsp) salt

½ red pepper, small dice

½ cucumber, small dice

1 tomato, small dice

¼ red onion, small dice

125 mL (½ cup) feta, crumbled

50 mL (¼ cup) black olives, pitted and diced

125 mL (½ cup) olive oil

50 mL (¼ cup) balsamic vinegar

15 mL (1 tbsp) liquid honey

5 mL (1 tsp) minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Place oat groats in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water about 5 cm (2 inches) above oats. Add salt. Place saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, turn heat down to medium. Allow oats to cook for 45 minutes or until tender. There should still be a slight bite to the oat groats.

Place the oats under cold running water to cool down. Once they are chilled, place in a medium bowl.

Add all other ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Salad tastes best after sitting overnight.

Makes 750 mL (3 cups)

The kidney beans – there are only a few of them – will be good for a small batch of minestrone, and at least some of the barley will end up in the soup pot as well.

Some of the red lentils, along with dried dates and apricots that I have stashed in another cupboard, will go nicely in another grain-based salad, Sultan’s Salad. I’ll substitute any other nuts I have on hand for pine nuts, as they are expensive right now.

Sultan’s Salad

Adapted from Eating Well Magazine

375 mL (1½ cups) water

2 mL (½ tsp) cinnamon

5 mL (1 tsp) salt

250 mL (1 cup) bulgur

125 mL (½ cup) red lentils

125 mL (½ cup) chopped dates

125 mL (½ cup) chopped dried apricots

125 mL (½ cup) chopped fresh parsley

75 mL (⅓ cup) chopped fresh mint (or 25 mL/2 tbsp dried mint)

25 mL (2 tbsp) olive oil

50 mL (¼ cup) fresh lemon juice

5 mL (1 tsp) grated lemon zest

50 mL (¼ cup) pine nuts, toasted and chopped

Stir cinnamon and salt into the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in bulgur and remove from heat; cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Spread bulgur out on a baking sheet until cooled to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place red lentils in a saucepan, and add enough water to cover by 2.5 cm (1 inch). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water, pressing firmly to remove excess water.

Combine bulgur and cooked lentils in a serving bowl with chopped dates, chopped apricots, minced parsley and mint, olive oil, lemon juice, zest and half of the pine nuts. Toss well. Sprinkle with remaining pine nuts.

For best flavour, make salad and keep covered in refrigerator for at least 1 day before serving.


Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at islandgusto@gmail.com.

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