I have bought buckwheat twice before, and both times sadly let it run way past its expiry date without ever trying to cook it. So, when I saw an article in The Guardian newspaper by Yotam Ottolenghi (aka ‘Salad Guru’) in defence of buckwheat, I decided that I had to try it for myself. Apparently, the stuff is highly divisive, like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. But once a taste for it has been acquired, it can be addictive. Buckwheat, which is gluten free, is huge in Eastern Europe but has not really managed to make it’s presence known further East, West, North or South.
There were a couple of recipes in the article, but the one which drew me was ‘Buckwheat and Rice Salad with Dried Cherries and Hazelnuts’. So, I went out to the supermarket to grab all the necessary ingredients for this salad. Of course, the only package of buckwheat that I could find had all the information written in Russian with no translation in sight. No worries – I think I can just about make out the number 20, so I am taking that as my cue to boil the buckwheat for 20 minutes. Double-check my recipe, and I notice it says roasted buckwheat (kasha) should be boiled for 6-8 minutes. Hmmm. Can’t make out on packaging if this is roasted buckwheat or not. I’ll stick to the package instructions and hope for the best.
Happily, the salad was a big hit with the family and it turns out that we do quite like buckwheat after all.
[TIP: This recipe uses wild rice and basmati rice, and cooks them separately. For the sake of one less pot to clean, I used a pre-packaged rice mix which included wild rice and brown basmati and cooked it in one pot.]
BUCKWHEAT AND RICE SALAD WITH DRIED CHERRIES AND HAZELNUTS
By Yotam Ottolenghi
(Serves 6-8 as a side salad)
130g wild rice (Note: Instead of using 130g wild rice and 150g basmati rice separately, I used 280g of a pre-packaged rice mix which included wild rice and brown basmati)
150g basmati rice (see Note above)
125g roasted buckwheat (kasha)
1 lemon, zest peeled (not grated), and 2 Tbsp juiced
130mL olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed/grated
100g dried cour cherries (or dried cranberries)
75g hazelnuts, roasted and lightly crushed
5 spring onions / scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
30g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
10g basil leaves, torn
10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
30g rocket leaves
- If you are using a rice mix (like I did), bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add the rice mix, and boil gently for the amount of time specified on the packaging. Drain and spread out on a plate to cool and skip to STEP 4. However, if you are following the original recipe and boiling wild rice and basmati rice separately, see STEP 2 and STEP 3.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add the wild rice and boil gently for 35-40 minutes, until the grains start to pop open and are al dente. Rinse under cold water and leave to drain.
- Put the basmati rice in a small saucepan with 300mL cold water, Place on a high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover and steam for 10-12 minutes until cooked. Remove from the heat, set aside for five minutes with the lid still on, then fluff up the rice with a fork, spread out on a plate and leave to cool.
- In another small pan, bring 220mL water to a boil. Turn the heat to very low, stir in the buckwheat, cover and cook 6-8 minutes. Stir once or twice more, Set aside for a few minutes with the lid on, then spread on a plate and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, put the lemon skin in a small frying pan, add the oil and pace over medium heat. When the skin starts to bubble, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Once both rices and the buckwheat are cool, mix them in a large bowl with the garlic, dried cherries (or cranberries), hazelnuts and spring onions (scallions). Discard the lemon from the olive oil, pour the oil over the rice, then stir in 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp of salt.
- Just before serving, stir in the herbs [Note: I added the herbs along with the oil and salt, and they have held up very well]. Spoon some rice on a serving dish, top with a little rocket, and repeat so you have a nice layered effect. Serve immediately.
From: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Buckwheat Recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi, The Guardian newspaper (UK)