Every day, nutrition clients ask me about different whole grains. I always rattle of a list of my favorites: rice, quinoa, millet, oats, buckwheat. When clients ask me about buckwheat, I’m quick to sing its praises, noting that it’s got a pleasantly nutty flavor; that, in spite of the name, it’s wheat free and gluten free, thus suitable for folks who follow gluten free diets; that it’s actually a pseudograin, or fruit seed (related to rhubarb and sorrel); that, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s thought to aid digestive troubles and high blood pressure; that it’s rich in fiber, magnesium, and manganese, the latter of which is associated with bone health.
The truth is that, in spite of how quick I am to recommend buckwheat, I don’t use it nearly enough in my kitchen. Long ago, I started to use it as a raw breakfast cereal (buckwheaties), and I made it the base ingredient in my raw granolas. Since then, I’ve really slacked on finding new ways to use it. I sometimes purchase kasha (roasted buckwheat) and use it as a breakfast cereal, but surely there’s a lot more to do with this wonderful, healthy ingredient than that.
This delightfully colorful salad is my ode to the whole grain that I so often neglect in my kitchen. In preparing it, I was reminded of how much I love the nutty flavor and chewy texture of buckwheat. It also occurred to me that buckwheat is actually a great gluten-free substitute for farro or barley–both of which have irresistible chew, but aren’t suitable for gluten and wheat free diets. Buckwheat has a nice, toothsome quality, and unlike rice or millet, it’s got plenty of chew.
I kept this salad seasonal, using a bunch of beets I’d picked up over the weekend and some simple chopped celery. I also decided to top the salad with fresh citrus slices (and use some citrus in the dressing). I’m going through a bit of an orange obsession right now, and it felt right.
The sunflower “feta” in this recipe adds a salty, tangy bite. I love the taste, but I do want to note that you could easily omit it, and in its place, you could simply sprinkle about a quarter cup of sunflower seeds (toasted or raw) over the finished dish. You could also use my herbed cashew cheese recipe instead, my lemon pepper brazil nut cheese, or my tofu ricotta.
So much texture, color, and flavor in this salad. You could serve it with lightly dressed greens for a simple lunch, or with soup and a hearty vegetable side for dinner.
Another wonderful advantage of buckwheat? It cooks so quickly! I was amazed at how easy it was to prepare (totally on par with quinoa). I’m definitely inspired to make buckwheat a more regular part of my diet–it’ll be perfect for porridge, lunch salads, and other easy recipes.
Hopefully you’re inspired to give buckwheat a chance, too. Enjoy the recipe, and enjoy the start of your weekends!