Buckwheat has never really gotten its due props. Earthy and warming, buckwheat is a robust grain so nutty that it can even make brown rice look wimpy. Its flour makes knockout flapjacks and dessert cakes, and its kernels can make a salad that’s filling enough to be a main course.
It’s also gluten free. A relative of rhubarb, buckwheat is neither related to wheat or a glutinous cereal grain. When I want to go gluten-free and switch it up from quinoa or millet, I often look to this grain.
Two of my favorite ingredients to pair with buckwheat are asparagus or arugula. The nuances of subtle vegetables can get lost when paired with the robust grain, so using vegetables with a punch serves both the veggie and grain well. Using lively herbs like basil is also key. Topping buckwheat off with cheeses that have a rich, peppery bite compliments the grain’s earthy flavors too.
Lastly, you can buy untoasted or toasted buckwheat (kasha) at the store, but I always recommend toasting buckwheat oneself to get the freshest toasted flavor. Instructions below.
Arugula Pesto Buckwheat with Asparagus and Chevre
Serves 4- 6
2 cups water
1 cup buckwheat
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon salted butter
½ pound asparagus, trimmed
freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup packed arugula
1 cup packed basil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup pine nuts
8 ounces chevre
Preheat broiler. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
Put buckwheat in a medium sized saucepan. Toast on medium heat for three minutes, shaking the pan to evenly distribute the heat. Add the two cups of boiling water, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon butter. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until the buckwheat has absorbed most of the water. Turn off the heat and let sit covered for five minutes.
While cooking the buckwheat, put the trimmed asparagus stems on a sheet pan and season lightly with remaining salt and pepper. Broil for 5-7 minutes, until pierced easily with a fork, but still al dente. Cut into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
Place garlic, arugula, olive oil and balsamic in a food processer. Pulse for 2 minutes, at 5-second increments, then process until almost finely chopped (the mixture will not become smooth). Add pine nuts, and pulse for 5 seconds more.
When the buckwheat is finished cooking, fluff with a fork. Stir in the pesto, and the asparagus. Divide between four to six plates. Top with chevre and serve.
asparagus, spring vegetable, whole grain
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