In spite of the name, buckwheat is not wheat – it is actually the seed of a flowering plant related to rhubarb. The morsels are about the size of giant cous-cous, so quite a bit bigger than quinoa, another gluten free seed. Buckwheat, however, tastes quite earthy and nutty, in contrast to quinoa’s relative blandness. After a few experiments, I’ve found I enjoy it best with plenty of lemon juice and moisture; oily sundried tomatoes work well, for example.
Buckwheat is full of nutrients such as magnesium and is believe to be helpful in regulating blood sugar and lowering cholesterol. You might be more familiar with it is a flour as it is used to make blinis and often found in north Italian cooking (there is a fabulous skiing dish called Pizzocheri made out of buckwheat pasta). Buy your buckwheat at Tesco (in the UK), health food shops, WholeFoods or Amazon.
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 aubergines (about 500g)
1-2 cloves of garlic
Sundried tomatoes (as much as you like, I use about 20)
150 ml water (optional: 1 tsp good quality vegetable stock dissolved in the water)
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tablespoon of tahini
Preheat the grill on full
- Prepare the aubergines by lopping the stalk off and slicing them vertically into 4-5 slices, around ½ a cm thick. Brush each aubergine – on both sides – with some of the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes and a dusting of salt. I also add a squeeze of lemon.
- Grill on each side until golden brown. Using scissors for simplicity, cut the aubergines into easier-to-eat, smaller pieces once they are cooked.
- Meanwhile dice the onion and garlic and fry in a splash of oil from the sundried tomato jar. Fry until soft and then add the sundried tomatoes, stirring for another couple of minutes.
- Throw in the buckwheat and dry fry for a minute or two. Keep stirring to stop it catching (sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan). Add a pinch of salt and lemon juice.
- Pour in the water – or water and stock – and stir well. Let the buckwheat boil for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and put the saucepan lid on.
- Depending on the type of buckwheat, the simmering should take about 10 minutes – your packet of buckwheat may advise you on the cooking time. If not, start tasting around the 10 minute mark.
- The buckwheat will be cooked when all the water has been absorbed and the grains are soft but not mushy. Turn off the heat and stir in the tahini and aubergines and pop the lid back on for a couple of minutes to let the dish “rest” before serving.