Friday, March 30, 2007

A heartfriendly warm buckwheat and mushroom salad

You're all familiar with rice, and many of you have used pearl barley, cous cous, bulghur wheat and quinoa in your kitchen. But what about buckwheat? Buckwheat flour makes an appearance in Japanese soba noodles, in French galettes de sarrasin, and in Russian blini pancakes. Yet I suspect that buckwheat groats are less common even amongst well-informed food bloggers. Yes, there is Clotilde with her recipe for Buckwheat Salad with Honey Spice Cake, and Gerda with a recipe for exotic Buckwheat Curry. But other than that, Elise's fabulous recipe search across foodblogs only yields recipes using buckwheat flour.

Yet buckwheat groats definitely deserve a place at your kitchen table, at least occasionally. They're unusual and different, hence interesting. Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, the groats have a lovely nutty flavour and tender texture - and they're good to your vascular system. What's not to like!? Buckwheat porridge is widely known here in Estonia - either as a dish on its own, or as a side dish instead of potatoes or rice. To make things easier, you can even buy pre-cooked buckwheat flakes these days, which make a lovely breakfast porridge.

Here, however, is a main dish I came up with last week. I wasn't sure what to call it in the beginning. It's not a stew, as although it's moist, there's no liquid to hold the components together and warrant the name. It's not a buckwheat 'risotto', as there's no element of creaminess. So I decided to go with a 'warm salad'. I served it with thin, long slices of crunchy carrot, but some spicy salad leaves would make a good accompaniment, too.

A warm buckwheat and mushroom salad
(Soe tatra-seenesalat)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp canola oil
200 ml buckwheat groats
2 carrots, coarsely grated
1 onion, finely chopped
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp black pepper
500 ml water
a generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp canola oil
300 grams of mushrooms (a mixture of champignons, oyster mushrooms, chantarelles etc), coarsely chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the buckwheat. Stir for a minute, until the groats are glistening with oil. Add the onion and carrots, reduce heat and fry gently for a few minutes, until onion has softened a little. Do not burn!
Season with salt and pepper, add the boiling water. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until the groats are al dente or tender, if you prefer.
Meanwhile, fry the chopped mushrooms in oil, until they're wilted and slightly browned.
Add the fried mushrooms to the buckwheat porridge, stir gently to combine. Sprinkle generously with parsley and serve.

Earlier @ Nami-nami:
Buckwheat and mushroom oven pie (September 2005)

This is also my entry to the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Anh from Food Lover's Journey.


Evelin said...

tavaliselt saab tatart kodus ikka suurem ports keedetud ja mulle meeldib seda kohutavalt igasugustes nö pannitoitudes kasutada, tatraga sobib muide väga hästi austrikaste. Peakski oma erilise lemmiku kohta kirjutama: juurseller+sibul+tatar+ananass+india pähklid+austrikaste. Kõht läheb tühjaks:)

Anonymous said...

Buckwheat groats are reasonably well known in vegetarian, whole foodie circles (probably thanks to the Western macrobiotic crowd?).

That is a great recipe to try, thanks!

Mallika said...

Very healthy indeed. Are they readily available?

Freya said...

I've never tried buckwheat groats but I love using buckwheat flour in pancakes. Looks delicious!

Kalyn Denny said...

This does sound just wonderful. Sorry you didn't think of WHB, but there's always another one coming next weekend!

Plume said...

Buckweat groats, or rather kasha, was my favourit grain as a child.
I eat it often at my local vegan restaurant, but I don't cook it at home because I always end with mush, topped with uncooked grains...
I'll try your recipe!

Jeanne said...

Mmmm, being a big fan of bulghur and pearl barley, this sounds like something I must try! I must have a loom and see if they have buckwheat in my local health store - they seem to stock every other exotic grain...

Anh said...

Pille, I love buckwheat a lot! It is kinda expensive here though... Your dish sounds lovely. If only I could find buckwheat groats more easily!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille, this sounds really good - I'll have to look out for those buckwheat groats!

Pille said...

Evelin - ma vist jään veidi oma veidi eestilikumate tatraroogade-liistude juurde:)

Kate - I can imagine that. Back in Edinburgh, health food stores were the only places I could buy buckwheat- until the so-called Polish stores came along after the EU Enlargement in May 2004.

Mallika - as you're based in England, I'd check out either the health food or Polish stores - I'm sure you'll find some!

Freya & Paul - then you'd probably like buckwheat groats, too.

Kalyn - I might just jump on board this week!?

Plume - kasha doesn't have to be only buckwheat, no? If you first fry buckwheat in some oil/butter and then add hot liquid (whether it's water or stock), then you shouldn't end up with mushy and/or uncooked grains.

Jeanne- check them out, maybe they stock this 'exotic' grain indeed:)

Anh - as I said above, I had hard time finding buckwheat groats in Scotland just few years ago. They weren't easily available even in health food stores, but since the EU enlargement it became more available. Hope you'll find a good - and affordable - source soon!

Sophie - thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Yum -- just made this for lunch. Excellent!

Anonymous said...

Not bad but very plain. Really needs some more kind of herbs or spices in there for flavour.

Pille said...

Anon. - well, people's tastes are very different. A good mix of mushrooms adds a flavour of their own, there's salt, pepper and parsley. Add much more, and you'll disguise the nutty flavour of buckwheat grain (IMHO).

Unknown said...

I've eaten buckwheat before, but never cooked it. This recipe was soooo easy! And delicious. Thanks so much :-)