Last week I had the opportunity to teach a Spring gluten-free salads class at Bob’s Red Mill. The teaching kitchen at Bob’s sits in the back of their Whole Grain Store, a wonderland of grains, beans, lentils, flours, and more. I could easily spend a whole afternoon lolling through the aisles, picking up inspiration at every turn (millet grits anyone??).
My menu consisted of six salads, one of each based on brown rice, wild rice, lentils, white beans, quinoa, and–one of my favorite things–buckwheat groats. (If you’re unfamiliar with buckwheat groats, here’s a close-up of the cute little nubbins.) Initially I set out to make the salad using buckwheat cooked in a typical fashion, namely simmered in a pot of water. This works just fine if you’re planning to eat the buckwheat hot, but as it cooled the groats clumped together into a mushy mess. Not okay. Determined to make a buckwheat salad, I remembered a technique many old-school recipes use: coating buckwheat with egg before simmering it in water. I always ignored that step (who wants to dirty the extra pan?), but somehow now it seemed worth a shot.
So I tossed the buckwheat groats with a beaten egg and put them in a nonstick pan over low heat. I stirred them around for four or five minutes to dry them out and guess what happened–not only were the groats lightly toasted, but seemingly protected by a forcefield of egg coating. I scraped the groats directly into a pan of simmering water to finish the cooking and after about 12 minutes in the pot they were salad ready. The extra step made all the difference in creating a grain that stayed separate and fluffy.
I cool the buckwheat on a cookie sheet for a few minutes before tossing it with the asparagus, roasted red peppers, and the smoky dressing. (The buckwheat gets greedy when it’s hot; it will snatch up all the dressing.) Serve the salad at room temperature, preferably the same day you make it. While I wouldn’t be averse to keeping it on the counter (covered) overnight, do not refrigerate this salad. I may have conquered the cooking part, but I have yet to discover how to keep that buckwheat from turning chalky in the fridge. Cheers! ~LbR