While Melbourne is enjoying a glorious late summer these last days, it is only a little more than a week until the official beginning of autumn. The evidence is mounting that the cooler season is approaching with big steps. The leaves are changing colour, chestnuts and acorns are adorning the pathways, and the days are getting shorter. Time for warming and earthy dishes such as this lentil buckwheat & beetroot salad with oranges.
It is no secret that lentils and buckwheat are a match made in heaven with their hearty textures and grounding flavours. Together, they also form a complete protein which is why this salad is so valuable for vegans. Beetroot with its sweet earthiness complements the qualities of lentils and buckwheat perfectly, while fresh oranges not only provide a hefty dose of vitamin C to rev up your immune system for the colder season, but with their juicy and tangy flavour lift this dish while chopped walnuts add heart-healthy fats and another textural element to this salad. A generous dose of parsley and spices provides for some bite while a mild dressing made of orange juice, balsamico and maple syrup achieves a perfect balance of flavours.
This is a very simple yet satisfying and wholesome starter or even main meal. I don’t cook the buckwheat as it would get all mushy, but rather roast raw buckwheat groats which makes for some wonderful crunch and nutty aromas. I used brown lentils from the tin although you can cook dry lentils and use them here. As for the beetroot, you can use freshly cooked, packaged or tinned beetroot.
Lentil Buckwheat & Beetroot Salad
1 cup raw buckwheat grouts
1 tin brown lentils, drained and rinsed
2 large oranges, chopped
3 cooked beetroot bulbs, chopped
2 handfulls of fresh parsley
salt, pepper, paprika, chilli and cardamon to taste
4 tbsp fresh orange juice (from the oranges)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
First, prepare the dressing by cutting your oranges open and squeezing out roughly 4 tbsp of fresh orange juice into a small bowl. Mix with equal amounts balsamic vinegar and maple syrup and adjust the ratios to taste. You may want to add some salt and pepper or other spices or add them to the finished salad. Dry roast the buckwheat in a large non-stick frying pan until golden and aromatic. This should only take a few minutes. Add to a large mixing bowl, then add the lentils, oranges, spices and dressing and mix well. Do not add the beetroots at this stage to avoid colouring of the remaining ingredients. Divide the lentil buckwheat orange mix to four salad plates and top with chopped beetroot, fresh parsley and walnuts.