Don’t let the name fool you — buckwheat isn’t actually related to wheat. It’s the seed of a flowering plant related to rhubarb, and it’s gluten-free. Buckwheat is common in raw food diets and is the main ingredient in soba noodles (“soba” is the Japanese word for “buckwheat”).
It’s also the star in this fresh and healthful side from local chef Marilyn Biggica. She is a proud supporter of the new hospital tower at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, where she’s been involved in helping design and test new recipes for the rooftop café, opening in early 2020.
Toasted Buckwheat Salad With Mint
Yields 8 servings
2 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry buckwheat
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 cups Roma tomatoes (excess seeds and juice gently squeezed out), chopped
1 cup halved black olives
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, to serve
In a medium pot over high heat, bring water or broth to a boil, and then reduce to simmer.
In a large saucepan over medium, heat oil. When hot, add dry buckwheat and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until buckwheat is fragrant and lightly browned.
Add simmering liquid to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until liquid is almost absorbed and buckwheat is tender.
Place cooked buckwheat in a large stainless steel bowl and allow to cool, stirring often.
Add remaining ingredients (except for feta cheese) and gently toss to combine. Add feta just before serving. Taste for seasoning; adjust if necessary.