This salad is my riff on kasha, the name given to toasted buckwheat groats cooked (in water or milk) throughout Russia and Ukraine. The word kasha basically translates as ‘porridge’ but although in the west we think of porridge as a breakfast food, kasha is commonly a comforting, hearty, savoury dish or side at lunch or dinner – often far less liquid and overcooked than oat porridge. By all means you can serve this salad hot, but I especially like it served at room temperature. The key really is toasting the buckwheat first – it brings out an extra nutty flavour and also stops it all from being too mushy.
450ml hot vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
800g mixed wild mushrooms
4 garlic cloves
1–2 teaspoons pul biber, or dried chilli flakes
1 bunch of spring onions
½ bunch of dill
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
80g dried cherries
Drizzle a little sunflower oil into a large frying pan and toast the buckwheat over a medium heat for 4–5 minutes, until it smells nutty and starts taking on a more golden hue. Spoon the buckwheat into a medium saucepan, pour in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Season then cover and reduce the heat a little. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the buckwheat is just tender. Check it a little before and keep an eye on it, otherwise it will turn to mush. When it is ready, remove from the heat. Fork the buckwheat out onto a large plate to cool quickly, so that it doesn’t overcook.
While the buckwheat is cooling, fry the mushrooms. Wipe and trim them. Slice any large ones and leave any nice-looking or exotic ones whole. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Place the large frying pan you toasted the buckwheat in on a medium heat and drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil. Fry the mushrooms for 12–15 minutes, so that they release all their liquid then start to crisp up and turn golden. Add the chopped garlic halfway through, with one teaspoon of pul biber, and generous pinches of salt and pepper (I think it needs at least one teaspoon of flaky sea salt). When the mushrooms are ready, remove the pan from the heat and leave to one side.
Trim and finely slice the spring onions. Pick and roughly chop the dill and parsley leaves. Add them all to a mixing bowl and toss with the cooled buckwheat and fried mushrooms. Squeeze over the juice of both lemons and stir in the dried cherries. Mix everything together, taste and tweak the seasoning, then serve.
Reprinted with permission from Nistisima, The Secret to Delicious Vegan Cooking from the Mediterranean and Beyond by Georgina Hayden. Copyright 2022. Photographs by Kristin Perers. Bloomsbury USA.
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