Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Avocado & Black Grape Salad, Steel Cut Oats, and the elusive Pileated Woodpecker

I love making salads like this for lunch, and they're usually not the result of any planning, just what happens to be on hand. I'm happy for any reason to eat an avocado, and it's paired here with crispy cucumber slices, black grapes, kalamata olives, and walnuts. Most salad dressings I make are experiments in on the spot trial and error, and this one was pretty good. Here's the dressing, more or less:

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. agave nectar (or sugar)
1 tbsp. capers
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup pineapple juice
salt and black pepper to taste

Winter is oatmeal sesaon, and I can usually carve out a little more time in the cold months to actually cook something for breakfast. Here I tried steel cut oats for the first time, soaked overnight. These were cooked for about a half hour on a low simmer, and still retained some texture - sort of like cooked barley or brown rice. I added yellow and purple raisins during the simmering, so they got nice and plump, along with a sliced dry fig, half a fresh peach, and ground flaxseeds.

I was curious about steel cut oats, but I think the longer cooking time will keep me from replacing regular quick oats, or even slightly longer cooking rolled oats, in my regular breakfast rotation. Good though, and people who know about this stuff say they're really healthy, since they're not processed nearly as much as other oats.

We're now in bird-watching mode, so if that's not your thing you're politely excused :) I do my best to take the pups on a long walk every day, and one of our favorite places in town is Oak Grove park, a beautiful expanse of oak trees on a bend in the Red River near downtown Fargo. In the summer it's a busy frisbee golf course, but I love the winter here because we usually have the whole park to ourselves, so I can let the dogs run around off the leashes. A highlight of the park is the chance to see pileated woodpeckers - today there were two in the park, calling to each other from opposite ends. They're extremely wary of people, but this one kindly let me take a couple of pictures before taking off across the park. They really are amazing animals, and their call is always what tells me they're around - you'll never forget it, and it apparently was the inspiration for Woody the Woodpecker's laugh...

While I was waiting to take a picture, these guys decided to take a breather from tearing around the park. If I can presume to speak for them, this means "forget about the damn birds, let's go play!"


Sal said...

that salad looks awesome.

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

What a great photo of the woodpecker! They're always so exciting to see.

Bianca said...

Aw! The pups are so cute! And so is the woodpecker. Oh and that salad! mmmm-mmmm. Grapes in a salad are the best.

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

Yay, cute dog pics!! And the salad looks delicious.

jd said...

Wow, that salad is so unusual (in a good way!) - I bet it tasted really good...

I love the puppies, too. They're very cute!

River said...

We are big bird watchers too! What a great picture! Oh man, I used to LOVE Woody Woodpecker! My parents were probably relieved when I got over my Woody Woodpecker laugh stage! :)

Snowy doggies! You are right, it looks like they want you to get over that silly bird that keeps trying to eat the tree.

Thank you so much for your birthday wishes, Mike! Sorry it took me so long to reply, I've been away from Blogland for a while.

Anonymous said...

Hello Fellow Vegan!

Cook you steel cut oatmeal overnight in the crockpot. Lightly oil the pot with whatever you have on hand and use the ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part oatmeal.
Cook on low overnight then stir in the goodies i.e: raisins, bananas, etc.

The amount you decide to cook should fill up the pot at least have way or it may burn. Keep in mind that extra can be cooked and patted into a oiled loaf pan; it will keep in the fridge a long time. Steel cut oats reheat well.

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This recipe is perfect because I love the avocado, it's my favorite fruit, actually I eat it not only with salad but also the avocado itself.

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My Doctor said me, "you have to eat Avocado & Black Grape Salad" and I thought , this recipe is really strange, but Thanks Gad I could get it in this wonderful post!

Gauri Radha गौरी राधा said...

Omg your dogs in the snow look so cute!!

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