I love entertaining. I enjoy cooking for my friends so much, I would probably have to classify it as one of my hobbies! I can get quite carried away though, spending hours pouring over cookbooks and food magazines deciding what to cook, and then yet more hours in the kitchen. I tend to go a bit overboard with candles and flowers- definitely a hazard, but it does make my flat look and smell beautiful! I am always determined to think up new things to cook when I have people over, and this buckwheat salad was a recent creation of mine.
Buckwheat itself is a fairly new discovery for me, and something I have discovered as a gluten-free option. The name is misleading- it is in fact entirely gluten-free (unlike bulgar wheat, which is not! Confusing!) It has a nuttier flavour than quinoa, which enables it to balance out stronger tastes, like beetroot and cauliflower. It is also super easy and quick to cook, and is delicious hot or cold.
I was so excited to finally see raw beetroot in a supermarket that I had to buy it. In America, roast beets is common- in fact, it is rare to find pre-cooked beetroots. Here, they always seem to be already cooked, which does make the whole thing a bit easier, but you also lose out on the deliciousness of a freshly roasted beet. They are delicious warm too!
Together with the cumin crunch of cauliflower and chickpeas and the nutty buckwheat, this is a delicious side dish or main course. Serve with a large helping of best friends and laughter.
Warm Buckwheat Salad with Roasted Beetroot and Cumin Cauliflower
4 large or 5 small beetroot
1 tin of chickpeas
3 tablespoons ground cumin
about 150g of buckwheat
handful of mint leaves, chopped
for the dressing:
juice of half a lemon
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. The first time I made this, I roasted the beetroot with their skins on, which seems like the sensible thing to do, but then they were extremely difficult to peel. I burned my fingers repeatedly and turned everything in my kitchen a deep shade of purple. So, new plan- peel the beetroot using a veg peeling while they are still raw, then wrap each one in tin foil, place in a roasting tray and bake in the oven for at least 45 minutes to an hour, or until they are soft all the way through.
Cut the cauliflower into smallish florets, and put in a roasting dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil and the cumin. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until they are browning and softish. Don’t overcook them or they will be a bit mushy and ruin the textures of the salad. About 5 minutes before they are finished, drain the chickpeas and add them to the roasting dish, giving it a bit of a toss to coat them in cumin.
Meanwhile, cook your buckwheat. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the buckwheat and simmer for 8 minutes. Then, drain.
While the buckwheat is cooking, you can make your dressing. Simply mix the lemon juice, honey, olive oil and salt and pepper in an old jam jar.
Now you are ready to assemble. Place the buckwheat on your favourite serving dish, then add the cauliflower and chickpeas. Cut the beetroot into small chunks and mix those in too. Finish with your dressing and mint leaves and give the whole thing a good toss before serving.