I’ll probably never forget the first lunch my Grandma cooked for me after I’ve decided to become a vegetarian. It couldn’t have been more than two months into this new resolution and I was still a little wobbly in it, especially sitting in the living room in which I ate some of the most delicious meats. But my Grandma, having gone through the experience of feeding a herbivore when my mom was more or less my age, pulled together a meal that, most definitely against her will, put a lock on my new diet.
There was (completely new to me) botwinka, a beetroot leaf soup, now my absolute favorite, perfectly cooked baby potatoes, and green beans swimming in a sweet tomato sauce, all finished off with a bowl of cherries. It was also the first time I left full but without the need to take a nap on the way back home. I’ve since changed my mind on green beans, which used to be a freezer staple before, and transitioned into a go-to plate of vegetables in the early weeks of summer. I’ve also been looking all over Milan for those beetroot leaves, but it’s a whole different story.
What I made for lunch today is, in a way, my interpretation of that meal. I’ve chosen to roast the tomatoes and make this sauce again, then swap buckwheat for the potatoes ( I’m not a fan of them just being there if they don’t help the overall flavor), and, for some extra crunch, I’ve added some browned breadcrumbs, the most Polish topping of all. And now I’m off to buy some cherries.
Green Bean and Buckwheat Salad with Roasted Tomato Sauce
(makes enough for 2)
100g roasted buckwheat
200g (about 2 handfuls) green beans
1 tsp salt, divided
½ tsp sugar
for the sauce:
300g cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
½ - 1 tbsp chopped parsley
½ - 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
for the breadcrumbs:
1 tbsp chopped almonds
½ tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp breadcrumbs (sub almonds for gluten-free, and skip the oil in that case)
Begin by making the sauce. Wash the tomatoes and place them, whole, in a baking tin. Add the olive oil, shake the tin to cover, place in the oven for about 30 minutes in 200°C, with the upper heating on.
Bring a medium pot of water to the boil, add half a teaspoon of salt, add the buckwheat and cook for 10 minutes, or as indicated on the container.
Trim the beans and chop them into 3mm pieces. Bring a small pot of water to the boil, add sugar and the rest of the salt, and cook the beans for 3-4 minutes.
Prepare the topping: place a clean pan over high heat, add the almonds and toast them until very fragrant. Add the olive oil and breadcrumbs, fry for 1-2 minutes, until the breadcrumbs turn golden-brown. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine minced garlic, the vinegar, parsley, and some salt. Carefully remove the tin from the oven, and add the tomatoes to the bowl with the spices, making sure to add all of the fragrant olive oil.
Break the tomatoes with a spoon, trying not to get tomato juice all over yourself. You want to have some pieces left, that’s why there is no blender involved. Add the buckwheat and green bean, mix to combine.
Divide between two plates, add a sprinkling of the breadcrumbs, and serve.