The other weekend Mr M suggested that we go on a picnic. I was thrilled at the idea – a picnic is really just eating and lounging, two of my favourite things! But I was less enthused when I realised we didn’t particularly have any picnic-friendly food on hand.
So I did a ‘surprise chef’. I had a hunt through our fridge and pantry and quickly knocked together this spiced eggplant salad with buckwheat, chickpeas, goats cheese and herbs. We arrived at our picnic spot by the river and soaked in a truly spectacular day.
The salad was pretty good too!
Given that it is largely grain based, the salad travelled pretty well and didn’t end up limp. The salad was still really tasty the next day.
This salad is great because I usually have all the ingredients on hand. You could also easily swap around many of the elements – burghul, quinoa or even couscous could stand place for the buckwheat, and this would be lovely with coriander instead of parsley and mint.
Spiced eggplant, buckwheat and chickpea salad
100g buckwheat (uncooked)
1 eggplant, thinly sliced lengthways
20g flaked almonds
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs ground coriander
1/2 to 1 tsp chilli flakes
1 can of chickpeas, drained
2 tbs preserved lemon, finely diced
large handful of parsley, chopped
large handful of mint, chopped
1 tsp of garam masala
squeeze of lemon juice
handful or so of soft goats cheese, crumbled
- First thing, cook your buckwheat. Wash it and then cover in boiling water. Cook until soft, but with a little bite (a few minutes). Drain and put aside to cool.
- Brush your slices of eggplant with olive oil on both sides, then place under the griller (or broiler) and cook until golden and burnished in parts. Flip them over to the other side and do the same. Remove from the griller, chop into bite sized pieces and put it with the buckwheat.
- Place the flaked almonds in a frypan and toast over heat until golden, set aside.
- In the same frypan, heat up some olive oil, then add the garlic, cumin, coriander and chilli. Cook until fragrant, then add the chickpeas and cook until the chickpeas are heated through and have taken on the flavours (a couple of minutes). Add to the buckwheat and eggplant mix.
- Once the buckwheat, eggplant and chickpea mixture has cooled, add in the herbs, preserved lemon and garam masala. Check the seasoning and add a little salt and pepper if needed – be careful as the preserved lemon is already salty.
- Dress with a little extra olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Top with the crumbled cheese and flaked almonds.
- Preferably eat this while lying on a blanket looking up at an azure sky…