Buckwheat is actually a seed, although many people consider it as a type of wholegrain. Don’t be fooled by its name – buckwheat is gluten-free and is no relation to wheat or other cereal grains. It is a source of high quality protein and contains lots of vitamins, minerals and flavonoids (anti-oxidants) so makes a great regular addition to a healthy plant-based diet. The health benefits of including buckwheat in your diet are reported to include: lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and helping to control blood sugar levels. Buckwheat is also a great source of fibre, so it looks after our digestive system and keeps it healthy. Here we team up this nutritious seed with our fabulous pesto recipe. Traditionally pesto is made with cheese, but you really don´t miss it in this recipe – using rocket makes this dish a really vibrant green colour as well as adding an extra gentle peppery tang.
You can serve buckwheat as a great alternative to rice or couscous – indeed any dishes where you use a grain. You can also serve this pesto over courgette spaghetti (ribbons of courgette), over some cooked pinto beans (for an alternative bean salad) or on your regular pasta for a wonderful dairy free alternative pesto sauce.
Recipe: Buckwheat pesto
Calories: 610 total for pesto sauce, 580 total for the buckwheat (298 per person)
1 cup buckwheat
2 ½ cups water
Handful of roasted nuts (we love cashews or almonds but any are fine)
Large handful basil leaves
Large handful of rocket
1 clove garlic, minced
2½ tbsp (30g) olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Optional: 1 tbsp soya (or tamari) sauce
Water as needed (to adjust the consistency)
Cook the buckwheat. As you want the buckwheat to be grain like (not sticky) you can first of all place the buckwheat in a dry pan and toast, over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. A light smell might start to arise and the grains should start to become a light brown colour. Then add 2 cups of water, cover, and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, check if you need to add the extra half cup of water (hot water is best). Once all the water has been absorbed remove the pan from the heat.
Whilst the buckwheat is cooking, make the pesto sauce. Place the nuts into a food processor and process for 10 seconds until the nuts have broken up into larger chunks. Then add the basil, rocket, parsley, garlic, olive oil and lemon (and tamari if using) and process until smooth, stopping every now and again to clean down the sides. Add a tablespoon of water to make the pesto looser and continue to add water to make it to your desired consistency. Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for an hour to allow the flavours to combine and enhance.
If you want to serve the buckwheat hot then add in the pesto and serve. For those warmer days, you can also serve this buckwheat pesto cool – remove the buckwheat from the heat, place in a bowl and leave it to cool uncovered. Then stir in a few tablespoons of pesto sauce and serve.
Hot water can be added to loosen the pesto mixture at any time.