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Friday 5 April 2013

Gluten Free: Mediterranean Buckwheat Salad

I hold Yottam Ottolenghi responsible for the weird and wonderful collection of ingredients in my cupboards at the moment. It was largely his mellifluous voice that convinced my to try a few of his Mediterranean inspired recipes, but after I tasted them, I fell in love with the flavours. I needed to throw together a lunch and I hadn't been shopping, so I gathered up all the jars and packets and got to work. This salad is by no means authentic, but it is delicious! It also goes well with grilled chicken or fish, or served instead of rice with stews.

Buckwheat is one of those grains that I shied away from for ages, it looked far too virtuous to taste good. I was wrong, it's similar to brown rice in flavour, just a bit earthier. It's not a grain, technically it's a seed (in the same way a tomato is technically a fruit), but you can treat it like rice or barley. You can buy whole buckwheat in health food shops and some delis, if you can't find it the recipe works just as well with brown rice or quinoa.

Buckwheat Salad (serves 2 - or 4 as a side dish)
You'll need:
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole buckwheat
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cucumber, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes (or a big handful of cherry tomatoes) chopped
  • 25g bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 80g dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 preserved lemon, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ras el hanout
  • salt
Make it!
  1. Rinse the buckwheat a few times in cold water and put in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the buckwheat in a sieve and run cold water over it to cool it down.
  3. Mix the buckwheat with the chopped onion, cucumber, tomatoes, coriander, apricots, preserved lemon and chickpeas.
  4. Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, ras el hanout and salt in a small bowl (or put it all in a jar and shake) to combine, pour over the salad and stir.

If you can't find ras el hanout, gently roast 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds, ½ tsp cumin seeds and ½ tsp fenugreek in a dry frying pan for a few minutes. Grind them together with ½ tsp chilli flakes, ¼ tsp cinnamon and a big pinch of dried rose petals. Add a teaspoon of this mix to the dressing in place of the ras el hanout.


  1. The little cafe over the road from the office does a buckwheat salad like this one. It's so tasty, and I feel extra healthy (read smug) when I order it.

    1. And you feel completely justified in having extra cake afterwards.

    2. They also do Portuguese custard tarts...


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