How to feed 15 for lunch
I use buckwheat groats in salads a fair bit. They are robust and hold their shape and I love that for most people who I feed them to, they are a new culinary experience. The inspiration from this salad actually came from a stall at London’s Broadway Market. I didn’t even try the recipe, the colours and flavour combinations were enough to persuade me that this would taste good. I just simply jotted down (in my iPhone notes) the idea of combining buckwheat with squash, chilli (which I elaborated to harissa paste) and dill. I only wish I’d made a note of the stall too – so I could say thank you for a brilliant recipe idea!
This autumn I’m joining the Stretching the City team as yoga retreat chef for 4 retreats led by the wonderful yogi Polly Mason at the beautiful Brantridge Park in Sussex. The first of which was the weekend before last (full pics on my Facebook page). Over the course of the weekend I got to prepare two 3 course dinners, 2 brunches and a light lunch, as well as leading a raw chocolate and healthy treats workshop. The weather for our first October weekend was expected to be so glorious it seemed wrong to do anything other than a vibrant salad for our Saturday light lunch. This squash buckwheat harissa salad was perfect on a share style platter that allowed the guests to eat as much (or as little) as they desired depending on their activity levels that morning (likely walking in the grounds or chilling with a book).
After months of planning cooking classes, and blog posts which mostly involve cooking elaborate dishes for me to enjoy solo, the challenge to cook for 15 people over the course of a weekend is a challenge I am currently relishing. To cook a dish, share it immediately with those around you, and watch them enjoy it is all you can ask for as a chef. Getting feedback on a blog recipe doesn’t somehow feel the same. Here on the blog I’m continually grateful people take the time to tell me they like what they see. But, will they actually ever go to the trouble of cooking the dish to find out what it tastes like?
There is something quite magical about being away on a retreat. Whether its the change of scenery, the bringing together of a new community, the yoga, the countryside, fresh air, or something I can’t quite put my finger on, its a magical place to be. I was a yoga retreat guest way before I became a yoga retreat chef, and I honestly never expected I’d still feel that magic as a retreat chef. But I do, and it it does, and I like it very much.
I’ll be cooking for 3 more retreats with Stretching the City led by Polly at Brantridge this autumn; Nov 13-15 (1 space left) , Nov 20-22 and Dec 4-6. For more info and a weekend of magical fun click HERE. Don’t forget to tell Stretching you heard about the retreat from me!
Can’t wait till the retreat? In the meantime you can cook this squash, buckwheat and harissa salad.
If you end up with some leftover harissa paste and you need some help with what to do with it check out these recipes.
- Easy Harissa Chicken with Tabbouleh, by Super Golden Bakes
- Spicy Stuffed Peppers by Knead Whine
- Harissa Roasted Chickpeas and Aubergine with Sweet Potato Mash, by The Veg Space
- Kale and Harissa Flat Bread Pizza, by Hungry Healthy Happy
- Pastilla of Confit Lamb Shank by Franglais Kitchen
- One-Pot Shawarma-Spiced Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower and Chickpeas by Food to Glow
- Harissa Beef Stew by me!
Or follow this Holy Smokes Harissa recipe from Rough Measures for an extra smokey harissa from scratch!
I also like a little of it blended into plain chickpea hummus, and served this under fried halloumi at a recent supper club.
- 3 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubed pieces
- 750g buckwheat groats, rinsed
- 95g jar of rose harissa paste or equivalent
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice half a lemon
- The seeds from 1 pomegranate
- Handful dill and coriander leaf finely chopped, reserving some whole for decoration
- olive oil
- Pre-heat oven to 180C. Toss chopped squash in a Tbs of olive oil lay out on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes until fork tender and charred on the edges.
- Meanwhile cook your buckwheat. Bring a large (8ltr) saucepan ¾ full of water to boil with a tsp of salt. Pour in the buckwheat and bring back to the boil. Turn to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Drain the buckwheat and rinse well under cold water. Leave to cool off completely.
- Mix the buckwheat groats with the squash and stir through the jar of harissa paste, lemon zest and juice, ¾ of the pomegranate seeds and the chopped herbs.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, you may not need extra as the harissa is well seasoned.
- Pile up on a platter and scatter over the remaining pomegranate seeds and some whole coriander leaves.
You can make your own harissa easily - I favour the Ottolenghi recipe, but since I was already at cooking capacity I chose a jar from Waitrose.