Grilled Fennel & Buckwheat Salad

I like this recipe a lot. It is pretty and it is delicious. It requires standing by the grill on a sunny-hot summer day, Rosé in hand; it also begs for company. This recipe is summery and light, yet satisfying and hearty like a great grain salad should always be.  This recipe is balanced. It is a great combination of flavors and textures that compliment each other, upon first bite. This recipes celebrates fennel and everything you can do with it, from the root to the leaves.  

Sweet, sweet fennel is grilled, alongside snappy garlic scapes until slightly charred and fully caramelized. These are then placed atop a bed of nutty, tender buckwheat. A bad-ass tangy pesto of fennel fronds and sunflower seeds ties everything together. The rich, smoky flavors that develop in the grill are balanced out by the creaminess and acidity of the pesto. The mild garlicky flavor of cooked scapes adds sharpness and a bit of spice, keeping each bite exciting. The avocado adds a cool, refreshing, fatty twist to the whole dish. This salad is so complex, rich, and delicious.

I like this recipe a lot. I know you will too.

Grilled Fennel & Buckwheat Salad

Serves 4

Cook time 45 minutes

To cook the buckwheat

  • 1 cup buckwheat
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 generous pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Place water in a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil. Add buckwheat groats. Stir once. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook uncovered until most of the water has evaporated. Do not stir buckwheat during this time! Cover pot and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Buckwheat is ready when slightly al dente, but chewy and tender. Once fully cook, fluff with a fork, then stir in salt, olive oil, and vinegar. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if needed. Set aside.

For the Fennel & Sunflower Seed Dressing

  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 large handful fresh fennel fronds
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 garlic scapes, optional
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. miso paste
  • 1 cup water
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Place all ingredients on food processor. Pulse until smooth and fully incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

For the grilled vegetables

  • 2 baby fennel bulbs, sliced in half (or a large bulb slice into ½-inch slices)
  • 10 garlic scapes
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat grill for five minutes. Pour olive oil over sliced fennel and garlic scapes. Toss until everything is fully coated. Place on hot grill and cook, rotating once for 7-9 minutes. Vegetables should be tender, slightly charred, with a little bit of a crunch. Feel free to taste as you cook for the right consistency, every grill is different and you don’t want these to turn soggy and gross.

To assemble salad

  • Cooked Buckwheat Groats
  • Fennel & Sunflower Seed Dressing
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Half an avocado, or more to taste
  • Handful of pine nuts, pistachios, or favorite seed
  • Salt and olive oil to taste

Place cooked buckwheat on the bottom of a large bowl. Add cooked buckwheat, then place grilled vegetables. Add avocadoes, then pour dressing over the top, then throw in pine nuts. Right before serving, toss everything together until dressing fully coats all the components of the salad.