I saw this salad in Bob’s Red Mill and just could not help myself. Not only healthy, eye-appealing, the salad has that “light” aspect going for it rather than heavy food’s not suitable for either a spring/summer salad.
“Hello Bob’s Red Mill readers and eaters!”
We are delighted to join you today to share with you a seasonal recipe for buckwheat groats, one plucky and highly underrated grain. Spring Buckwheat Salad is a light and zippy salad, flush with fiber and herbs. It is quick and easy to make, healthy, filling, and is a great alternative to traditional Bulgur wheat if you’re gluten-free. This salad allows the nutty flavor of buckwheat to come through and is a stunning way to showcase whatever seasonal vegetables or herbs you have on hand.
We have a soft spot for buckwheat groats in our kitchen and often find ourselves making seasonal salads with this versatile and delicious grain. We dropped by our farmers market this week and found some pungent wild ramps, violet flowers, asparagus, pea shoots and radishes and thought to make a salad that would provide a backdrop to these delicate spring edibles. But don’t let access to local ingredients stop you, this salad will easily adapt to any fresh produce you have on hand. For the vinaigrette we wanted to highlight spring herbs and pinched off the first round of basil leaves and batch of mint from our backyard herb garden.
A word about buckwheat groats for those unfamiliar with this lovely little grain. Buckwheat is in fact not related to its’ namesake, wheat, and comes from the triangular seed of an herb. Toasted buckwheat groats are called Kasha; Buckwheat groats are the raw version. These kernels taste nutty and have a firm texture when cooked, they stand up well to this basil vinaigrette and meld deliciously together for a final product that is refreshing, filling and a stunning reminder of spring.
Spring Buckwheat Salad
- 1 cup Buckwheat Groats, rinsed
- 3 Asparagus Spears, cut into small pieces, about 1/2 inch
- 6-8 Wild Ramps, washed, outer membrane removed and cut into small pieces (substitute Green Onion, Leeks, Red Onion or Shallots)
- 2 small Radishes, washed and sliced as thinly as possible
- Small handful Violet Flowers for garnish
- Small handful Pea Sprouts (substitute extra Mint, Basil, Parsley, Kale, or Spinach)
- 4 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Oil (preferably Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
- ¼ cup fresh Mint
- 1/2 cup fresh Basil
- 3 Green Onion Stalks
- Place 2 medium-large pots with water (at least 2 quarts) on high and bring to a boil.
- To the first pot add buckwheat groats and a large pinch of salt.
- Simmer buckwheat at medium-low heat for 11-14 minutes until the grains are cooked through. You will want to start tasting them towards the end of the cook time to test for doneness. The buckwheat should be roughly the texture of cooked brown rice; no hardness in the center, but firm and chewy. Once cooked, drain and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Prepare a large bowl with very cold water and ice, you will be using this to blanch your vegetables.
- To the second pot of water add the chopped vegetables that you want to cook (asparagus and ramps). Allow to cook in simmering water for one minute and then remove vegetables with a slotted spoon, transfer directly to the bowl with ice water. The ice bath stops the cooking process and preserves the vibrant color of your vegetables. Once the vegetables are cooled down, 2-3 minutes, remove from ice water and set aside.
- In a blender or other food processing device combine the vinaigrette ingredients (vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, pepper, mint, basil, and green onion) and blend until smooth.
- Add the basil vinaigrette to the buckwheat. Add ramps, asparagus, and radishes, stir gently to combine and garnish with the violet flowers and pea sprouts. This salad gets better as the flavors meld, so ideally let it sit for 15-30 minutes prior to serving.
A few ideas for seasonal variations:
Summer: Tomato, corn and purple basil buckwheat salad with tomatillo salsa
Fall: Roasted butternut, beet and red onion buckwheat salad with crumbled blue cheese
Winter: Apple fennel buckwheat salad with blood orange vinaigrette