Thursday 12 December 2019

Weekend Bites: Sowing those wild oats

Rachel Allen is a big fan of smoked fish. Photo: Tony Gavin.

I'm a self-confessed oat addict. I love porridge, dig granola and am a flapjack fiend. I love oats' texture, their nutty flavour and the way they can be added to basic things, like a loaf of bread or apple crumble topping, to deliver a whole new texture and taste.

I also love that such a tasty, wholesome ingredient is good for us. High in complex carbohydrates and fibre, they release energy slowly, making a bowl of porridge a smart choice for those intent on cutting out snacks.

Beta-glucan, the water- soluble fibre prevalent in oats, has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.

Soluble fibre also slows the absorption of glucose into the body, which means a welcome reduction in those sugar highs and lows.

Those slow-releasing complex carbohydrates not only sustain energy levels, they also help us to concentrate better. Eating plenty of fibre (20g-35g a day) can help to control blood sugar too, which is especially important if you have diabetes.

Porridge, in particular, is good for our overall wellbeing. High in vitamin B1 (thiamin), it takes part in many of the chemical reactions in the body, which contribute to normal functioning of the nervous system and the heart.

Lastly, oats are ridiculously good value. Tasty, nutritious, filling and versatile, they represent natural food at its finest, and deserve to be enjoyed beyond breakfast time.

Recipes courtesy of Flahavan's. See www.flahavans.ie for more ideas

Oat Meatloaf


454g (1lb) minced beef, lamb or pork

100g (4oz) Pinhead oatmeal or jumbo oats

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsp tomato ketchup

2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (parsley/thyme/basil)


1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F/Gas mark 3.

2. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

3. Transfer to a greased or lined 2lb loaf tin, cover with parchment paper and bake for approx 40 minutes.

4. After 40 minutes, remove the parchment paper and bake for a further 15 minutes, lowering the heat to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2.

5. To ensure the loaf is cooked through, pierce it with a skewer and check that the juices run clear. Serve hot with fresh garden vegetables and potatoes, or cold with a side salad.


Oaty Lemon Squares



150g (6oz) butter200g (8oz) brown sugar

200g (8oz) plain flour

150g (6oz) oats

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

400g (1 can) condensed milk


1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a mixer or food processor.

2. Add the flour and oats and mix to form a dough - the texture will be crumbly.

3. Line a 13" x 9" (32cm x 22cm) baking tray with parchment and firmly press out about ¾ of the dough in the base of the tray.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the juice and zest of the lemons with the condensed milk.

5. Spread the condensed milk and lemon mixture on top of the dough in the baking tray.

6. Sprinkle the remaining dough over the top and press lightly.

7. Bake in preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2 and bake for a further 20 minutes until golden in colour.

8. Allow to cool and cut into small squares.


Oatmeal and potato pancakes



250g (10oz) boiled and peeled potatoes

150g (4oz) oats

50g (2oz) plain flour

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 eggs

500ml (½ pint) milk

1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (thyme/parsley/chives)

Butter and oil for frying

Makes approx 30 pancakes


1. Place the potato, oats, flour, onion and garlic in a food processor or a blender and blend for approximately one minute.

2. Add the eggs, milk, herbs and blend for a further minute. Season as required.

3. Heat some oil and a knob of butter in a frying pan.

4. Put one tablespoon of pancake mix (per pancake) on the pan and fry for one minute, turn over and fry the other side until golden brown and cooked through. You can cook 3-4 pancakes at a time on the pan.

5. Transfer the pancakes to a warm plate and repeat steps 3-4 above until the mixture is used up. Serve for breakfast, lunch or tea. These pancakes also make a tasty starter served with smoked salmon and cream fraiche.


Ask the Expert with Rachel Allen

Rachel Allen is a big fan of smoked fish. Photo: Tony Gavin.

Rachel Allen

What are you most looking forward to at this year's Ballymaloe litfest?

Things are getting really exciting here at Ballymaloe as we’re gearing up for the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine 2015!

I just wish that I could go to every single talk, tasting and demonstration as there are so many amazing events happening. I’m going to be hosting a demo with Allegra McEvedy at the cookery school, as well as one with Leylie Hayes and Hugo Arnold from Avoca. I’m also hoping to get to see Christian Puglisi as I’ve eaten in a couple of his restaurants in Copenhagen and adored them both.

I love Fuchsia Dunlop’s take on Asian food, so hopefully I’ll get to catch up with her too. I’ll definitely be heading to the Big Shed, which is where everyone goes to hang out and sample some fabulous food and craft beers, and this year, there is going to be lots of brilliant workshops happening down there too.

Basically, whether you’re two or 82, there’s a great weekend in store!

The third Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine runs from May 15-17. The full schedule of events and speakers is now available on the LitFest website www.litfest.ie with some events sold out.

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