Buckwheat with Roasted Vegetables
150 g small carrots (3 – 4)
1 small red or yellow bell pepper (200 g/7oz)
1 small fennel (300 g/10 oz)
1 red onion (100 g/3.5oz)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
50 ml orange juice, freshly squeezed (1/5 cup)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp honey
¼ tsp salt
150 g buckwheat groats or kasha* (3/4 cup)
1 tsp olive oil (for toasting)
300 ml vegetable stock or water (1 1/5 cup)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
30 g rocket (arugula 2.5 cups)
Salt end freshly ground black pepper
20 – 25 g toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Peel the carrots and cut them in half lengthwise, then in 7-cm-long (3-inch) pieces. Cut the pepper in 4-cm x 1.5-cm strips (1.5-in x 0.5-in), and the fennel and onion in wedges. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, spread the vegetables over the tray and drizzle with a tablespoon of oil, then roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients until the honey has dissolved. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and toss until all are coated evenly, then roast for another 20 minutes, or until tender, stirring after 10 minutes. You can roast the chopped almonds in a separate dish for a few minutes towards the end of the cooking time of the vegetables, or immediately afterwards.
While the vegetables are roasting, bring to boil the vegetable stock or salted water. Rinse the buckwheat with cold water and drain well. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick saucepan over medium heat, add the buckwheat and toast for 4 – 5 minutes. This process is necessary to avoid a sticky mess, unless you use pre-toasted kasha. (See notes.) Pour over the stock or lightly salted water, bring to boil, reduce heat to very low, cover and allow to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes when all liquid should have been absorbed. After 15 minutes check that it is not too dry, in which case add a little water, or, if too much liquid remains, raise the heat and cook without the lid to make the water evaporate.
Stir together vinegar, oil and rocket in a medium bowl. Add the buckwheat, half of the roasted vegetables and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a serving dish, top with the remaining vegetables and the roasted almonds and serve at once.
* Kasha is the term for toasted buckwheat which has a rich reddish-brown colour and a strong nutty flavour. It is excellent in this recipe, but generally not available in Italy. If you can find it, it gives a richer flavour than the raw buckwheat which is pale greenish-brown. Obviously, it does not require further toasting.
Despite its name, buckwheat is not a type of wheat and consequently does not contain gluten. It is classified as a pseudocereal, as is quinoa and amaranto, and are the seeds of a plant with pretty white or pink flowers which is related to rhubarb and sorrel. It is very versatile in the kitchen and can be used in place of rice or quinoa in hot or cold dishes, makes tasty veggie balls and porridge, and gives substance to soups. Buckwheat is highly nourishing, being rich in easily digestible protein (18%) and having a high concentration of essential amino acids. It is packed with vitamins and minerals, and has particularly high levels of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). It contains flavonoids which are excellent substances for increasing the elasticity of blood vessels, as well as dietary fiber which helps to fill you up.