Buckwheat casserole with roasted figs and grapes


I had a festive holiday meal in mind when I came up with this dish. Really, with seasonal fruits arranged on top, how could it not be festive? And at the base is filling, nutritious buckwheat, cooked up with onions majadera-style. All in all, it’s a parve/vegan dish that’s fit to serve at a holiday meal such as Rosh Hashanah or Sukkot.

I’m not the buckwheat expert, so I called my friend Irene to get some advice as to how it’s prepared. One key thing — your buckwheat may be roasted or not roasted. If it’s not roasted — and you can tell because it’ll have a light yellow/green color — then she recommends toasting it first in a dry frying pan. Stir regularly, because it could burn quickly.

Ultimately, the cooked buckwheat has a hearty, toasty flavor that goes well with the caramelized onions and the sweet fruit and sweet potatoes.

For one baking pan’s worth of casserole:

For the buckwheat layer:
2 cups buckwheat
2 large onions
1/2 cup oil
4 cups broth (optional; you also could use a mix of broth and water)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the sweet potato layer:
750 grams sweet potatoes
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
drizzle of oil

For the fruit on top:
6-8 figs (about 250 grams)
1 large branch of grapes (about 180 grams)

First look at your buckwheat. If it’s already toasted — a light brown color — then you’re good to go. If it’s a light green color, then you need to toast it. Put it in a frying pan on medium heat without any oil, and stir as it cooks. Remove from the heat once the buckwheat is a relatively uniform golden brown.

Also, preheat your oven on the hottest setting (say, 220-240 Celsius).

Slice the onions into strips. Add them to a pot with the 1/2 cup oil and let simmer, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden brown around the edges (don’t let them turn black).

Add the buckwheat to the pot along with 4 cups of water or broth, the salt, the cinnamon and the nutmeg. Bring to a boil and let simmer, covered, until the buckwheat is soft.

In the meanwhile, you can start the sweet potatoes. Cut into discs, and toss with the salt and spices and a drizzle of oil. Arrange on a pan and bake in the oven until soft.

Once both the buckwheat and the sweet potatoes are cooked, arrange them in your baking dish. Spread the buckwheat across the bottom, and then arrange the sweet potatoes in a layer on top. To finish, arrange the figs and an entire branch of grapes attractively on top (your choice as to how you cut and arrange the figs).

Bake in the oven at 210 Celsius until the figs and grapes are lightly browned. Serve.

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