A little while back I went with my friend Tanya to a Russian food store and she pointed out whole buckwheat to me. A long time favorite of my mom for it’s gluten-free nature (contrary to its name), I’ve used buckwheat flour, but never the actual pseudocereal itself. So I figured why not and bought it. Like many things we buy…it sat in my pantry for about four months until I came across it when I was doing a “clean out” meal and set out to use it.
A little about buckwheat: it’s a gluten-free grain that’s pretty commonly used in Russia, China, Vietnam, Japanese soba noodle production, ground up and used in India as buckwheat flour, etc. It has a low glycemix index, which basically mean it has a lower blood sugar impact as compared to other foods like cooked pasta. It has about 6 grams of protein per cup of cooked buckwheat, and 155 calories. Not too bad.
Quinoa also has a pretty low glycemic index and only about 220 calories and 8 grams of protein in one cooked cup. Not bad and pretty filling.
By mixing these two pseudocereals with veggies, herbs, and some cheese you can make solid and healthy lunches for the week that are filling, have some protein, and taste delicious!
1. Rinse your grains — it’s a must. A lot of times grains will have a little dust or natural bitter saponin coating. A quick rinse will add to the flavor.
2. Don’t be shy when flavoring your water. Salt it liberally — most of it is going to be thrown out with extra cooking water anyways
3. I don’t really follow any particular rule when it comes to how much water:grain to boil in. I put in how much grain I want, cover it with water, going a little above the grain, and then adjust by taste. I like my grains al dente, so I just taste them after about 5-7 minutes for the buckwheat and quinoa, and if I like it, I’m done, if not, I cook it for longer or add more water. I do the same thing with rice — it’s how my Maa does it, and it hasn’t failed me yet.
4. Do your own thing with the spices/herbs here — it’s really quite a versatile salad. Use miso-soy sauce-ginger. Use balsamic-red onion-olive oil. Use peanut butter-soy sauce-siracha-rice wine vinegar. Use green goddess dressing. Whatever you want.
Buckwheat and Quinoa Salad – makes about five boxed lunches, takes 35-45 minutes from start to finish
1 cup buckwheat, dry
1 cup quinoa, dry
4 small radishes, sliced
0.5 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped roughly
5 oz arugula, or 1 bag
0.5 cup feta cheese
0.5 cup snap peas, chopped
0.25 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste — if you have smoked salt, use that. It’s delicious.
fistfull cilantro and basil, chopped
Cook quinoa and buckwheat in separate pots until they are the texture you like. Flavor the water with salt, vegetable broths, spices, whatever floats your boat. Meanwhile, combine all the veggies except the arugula and feta cheese in a bowl, add in the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and smoked paprika, and mix well.
Strain the buckwheat and quinoa and place, still hot, in bowl with veggies and cheese and mix well. This will very lightly cook the veggies. Add in the basil and cilantro. Mix. Add in the argula, mix. Salt and pepper to taste.
Portion out into containers for the week, for more protein top with 1-2 hardboiled eggs, goat cheese, or whatever.