Eat a vegetable week
Over the last year, I have found myself exploring more and more vegetarian food. In part, it’s an attempt to live more off things that come from the earth, but also to set myself new culinary challenges to expand my knowledge and repertoire. It’s quite hard to believe that before this, I hadn’t really cooked much with quinoa, buckwheat or lentils. I happily confess to having always been a chickpea hummus freak, and of course, there was always room for some good quality cheese.
One of my favourite recipes from this last year is my Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Spiced Chickpeas, and surprise! No meat!
In line with my general approach to eating, I prefer to choose natural vegetarian food, with a big emphasis on vegetables themselves. Eating vegetarian food isn’t always by definition healthy. Pizza with a side of greasy chips, for example, is a vegetarian dish, but hardly the most healthful. And no amount of veggie preaching will ever turn me to eating highly processed tofu or tempeh (fermented soy, the preferable kind), or even worse, fake meats such as quorn. I’ll be choosing lentils, peas, and the like thank you.
Katie aka The Muffin Myth wrote a great post on my site recently about why she chooses vegetarianism. Hers is a whole different approach to my occasional meat free meal, but it’s interesting to compare attitudes and worth a read and some serious thought.
18th -24th May is National Vegetarian Week in the UK, so the folks at Betta Living invited me to share a veggie recipe. To tie it in with my style and the season, I’m sharing a fresh salad using my new favourite buckwheat and my old favourite chickpeas. AND because it’s me of course there is pesto involved. This time a Brazil nut pesto – an interesting way of including brain supportive and selenium rich Brazil nuts in dish.
This buckwheat salad recipe is a versatile base from which to build hundreds of variations. Try different vegetables, grains or legumes in the same proportions til you hit on your favourites.
- 160g buckwheat groats
- 320g (2 whole heads) broccoli
- 160g frozen peas
- 2 x 380g carton of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 6-8 Tbs pesto + extra to drizzle
- Rocket to dress the top of the salad
- 50g Brazil nuts / approximately 12 nuts
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 120g fresh rocket
- 20g fresh basil
- 8 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- To cook the buckwheat, heat 160mls of water in a saucepan with ½ tsp salt. When it starts to simmer, add the buckwheat. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15minutes. The buckwheat is done when all the water is absorbed, and the grains still retain some bite. Turn it out into a strainer to allow excess moisture to drip off and for the buckwheat to cool completely. Blanch or steam the broccoli and peas in a saucepan of boiling water for 4 minutes, drain and cool by running under cold water to seal in the colour.
- Make the pesto. Blitz the nuts in a food processor, leaving a bit of texture rather than grinding to a flour. Add the garlic, then the salt, the leaves, and pour in the oil, lemon juice. Blitz till incorporated. Taste, and if too bitter add the teaspoon of maple syrup. You may possibly require extra lemon, oil or salt. Let you tastebuds help you decide.
- When the buckwheat and broccoli/pea mix have cooled, toss the buckwheat and chickpeas together, with half of the pesto (3 Tablespoons) until well coated. Then add the broccoli, the peas and the rest of the pesto, reserving some for a final drizzle. Taste and check seasoning. Top with rocket and if you like an extra drizzle of pesto.
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