Friday 25 March 2016

Foodie Friday - Using Buckwheat As A Grain And A Recipe

As much as I love cooking and eating sometimes it can all get a bit boring. I don't know about you but I tend to eat the same things again and again. Over the last few months though I've made a real effort to try and mix it up a bit and to try something new. I've been trawling through recipe books, magazines and the internet to look for new meals and recipes to try, and of course I've been ordering a few boxes from the Hello Fresh scheme ( read about my Hello Fresh experience here).

I've found quite a few lovely recipes that I'd like to share with you but in today's Foodie Friday post. I'm going to focus on a recipe and an ingredient that came courtesy of a Hello Fresh box - Buckwheat!

As someone with wheat and gluten intolerance's I'm all too familiar with buckwheat. Despite it's name it isn't actually related to wheat, it isn't even strictly a cereal instead it's related to both the sorrel leaf and rhubarb. The grain or seed can be ground into a flour and made into all sorts of things from pancakes, blinis and galettes, to noodles and even chocolate brownies.

I have to say I'm not a fan of buckwheat flour when it's used in sweet things, the flavour for me just dominates and doesn't work but something that I have become a fan of is the buckwheat grain or seed itself

Buckwheat can be used in any way that you would use rice, cous cous or Bulgar wheat. You can use it to make a type of porridge, or you can use it as an accompaniment to stews and vegetable chillis like I have below. The grains have a subtle nutty taste and they take on flavour really well

You can find both buckwheat flour and the grains in most major health food shops and larger supermarkets and the grains in particular are something I would really recommend. A 100g of dry buckwheat grains is just 343 calories, and it is a good source of protein, carbohydrate, fibre, and B vitamins,

Most of the packets that you buy, should have cooking instructions on them but I have to be honest and say after trying a few different methods Hello Fresh's is the one that works for me. I'll talk about it more in the recipe below but it's basically an absorption method that leaves the grain, looking and feeling dry but soft and with a bit of a bite to them.

The recipe below is a very slight adaption of the original Hello Fresh recipe that introduced me to buckwheat as a grain, and I personally think that it's a winner. It sounds a bit strange with the spices and so on but please, please give it a chance and prepare yourself for a taste explosion.

Mexican Bean & Buckwheat Bake With Creme Fraiche

1 x Can Beans - Kidney, Black, or Black Eyed Work Best
1 x Red Pepper
1 x Yellow Pepper
1 x tbsp Olive Oil
2 x Cloves Garlic
1 Medium or 2 Small Red Onions
1 Cup or around 150g Buckwheat Grains
1/2 Vegetable Stock Cube or 1/2 Vegetable Stock Pot
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 ts Cinnamon
2 tbsp Creme Fraiche
Red Chilli or Pickled Jalapenos To Taste (I use about a tablespoon)
100g Cheddar Cheese
1 x tbsp Olive Oil Or A Few Sprays Of Low Fat Cooking Spray
Salt And Pepper To Taste

To Serve

Chopped Chives or Green Parts From A Spring Onion
Creme Fraiche

1. Pre heat your oven to around 220°C - Core and deseed your peppers and chop them into bite size chunks, and put them onto a baking tray. Drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes till they're soft, and just starting to colour.

2. Bring 225ml of water to the boil and add your stock cube or your stock pot

Then add your buckwheat  - bring the pan back to the boil, then cover with a lid and turn the pan down to the lowest heat and leave for about 10 minutes and don't be tempted to take the lid off to have a peek

3. Then peel and finely slice your onion and your garlic and your chilli. I used about half a fresh red chilli here but I like it hot. Add as much or as little as you like - you can also use pickled jalapenos which are a good store cupboard / fridge substitute.

Then  in a large frying pan either heat up either a tablespoon olive oil or if your saving calories a few sprays of Fry Light, and add your onions, chilli and garlic, and cook for around 5 minutes till soft.

4. Then add your spices - the cumin, the paprika and cinnamon - The amounts I've given work but again you can add what you like - my mum isn't that keen on cinnamon so I tend to add a little bit less. Stir in the spices and cook for about a minute.

Then drain and rinse your beans - the original recipe uses black beans but none of the supermarkets near me seem to stock them so I've experimented with a few different types of canned pulses and I think it works best with either a black eyed bean or a kidney beans so I'm using kidney beans here x Add your beans and a touch of salt and pepper to taste. Cook or a minute or two until the beans are warmed through and remove from the heat.

5. By this time your buckwheat should be done so take off the lid and have a look. All of the water should have been absorbed by now and the buckwheat should be softened and dry and appearance. If it's still a bit wet cook it over a low heat for a little bit longer.

Like rice or cous cous, try not stir it, just fluff it up with a fork, then gently stir it into the vegetable and bean mix

Then remove your roasted peppers from the oven but leave the oven switched on x

and then stir your peppers into your bean and buckwheat mix

and then stir in 2 tbsp creme fraiche.

6. Then pour your mixture into a oven proof baking dish, and top with your grated cheese

Then bake  for around 15 - 20 minutes until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbly

Then spoon onto plates, sprinkle with chopped chives or the green parts of a spring onion, and serve with creme fraiche. This would easily serve four people with the addition of a bit of green salad.

This recipe really surprised me apart from the unusual ingredient - the buckwheat grain - this dish really is an explosion of different tastes and textures in your mouth. You get the nuttiness of the grain, the creaminess of the creme fraiche, the sweetness of the vegetables, the heat of the chili, and the depth and exotic tastes of the spices. It sounds odd I know but this is a really quick, tasty and substantial dish that always leaves me wanting more. I'm definitely going to be continuing my experimentation with buckwheat so if you have any recipe suggestions (Slimming World fans in particular) let me know x 

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