summer tomato soup with buckwheat groats

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Sometimes, all a woman wants is COUSCOUS. Preferably, Israeli couscous with its pearl pallor and miniature pea shape. Couscous is creamy, rich, and adds texture to a simple soup, and since gluten is verboten (What? Haven’t you heard?), I’ve been trying to find worthy, yet healthy, substitutes.

Enter the GROAT. The name is tragic, I know. It feels agrarian, pastoral, something you dig up out from the ground. I discovered the hulled seeds while trolling blogs for gluten-free recipes (such is my life), and contrary to what its name might suggest, buckwheat is not actually wheat. Rather, buckwheat groats are the hulled seeds from the buckwheat plant; its cousin is the rhubarb! Raw, it looks exactly like what it is…a seed. But when cooked, well, magic starts to happen, and the tough seed transforms into the texture of couscous, of rice.

You can’t imagine how excited I was to find a worthy pasta substitute. The tears were real, my friends. I invite you to try out this simple soup to see for yourself. And while many of you are all tra la la, eating gluten with aplomb, perhaps consider switching up your repertoire for healthier, vitamin-packed options.

So says the forced convert.

INGREDIENTS
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp of minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
3 lbs of tomatoes, roughly chopped. I used a mix of heritage, cherry, beefsteak and plum
1 qt of organic, yeast-free chicken stock
1 cup fresh basil, packed
Salt/pepper to season
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
1 cup water

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot, add the olive oil and turn on the heat to medium/high. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and chopped onion with a pinch of salt so the onions sweat rather than burn. Saute the mixture for 4-5 minutes until the onions are translucent the mixture is aromatic. Add the tomatoes, and stir to coat with the onion/garlic mixture. Saute for another 4 minutes.

Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, in a medium pot, add the water and groats and bring both to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook per the package directions, 10-12 minutes.

After the soup is done, add the basil, salt and pepper, and blitz using an immersion blender (best investment I’ve made) or a blender going through several batches. Add in the groats, stir, cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot!

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pearl barley and baby kale, corn + sausage salad

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I’m closing on my first week without my beloved noodle, and it appears as if I will survive. I’ve stocked my fridge with vegetables, fruit, and meats, and my pantry with beans and whole grains. Thankfully, I’ve some pretty stellar cookbooks from which to draw inspiration, and today’s lunch will be a terrific one.

The original recipe {view it here} calls for mushrooms and red onions, two ingredients I abhor, so I opted to switch things up a bit, and nix the hummus {while I adore hummus, it didn’t make sense for my revision}, mushrooms, and onions. The result? Fresh, flavorful, filling.

And yes, I still miss pasta.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Jane Coxwell’s Fresh Happy Tasty: An Adventure in 100 Recipes, with modifications.
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup pearl barley {you can also use Israeli couscous}
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 small shallot, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 sweet sausages, casing(s) removed {depends on how much sausage you want in the recipe}
1 ear of organic sweet corn
Maldon salt or other flaky salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice from ½ lemon
1 handful organic baby kale leaves
1/2 cup dill leaves
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

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DIRECTIONS
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the barley and cook for about 30 minutes, or until tender. If you’re using Israeli couscous, cook the grains per the package directions.

While the barley {or couscous} is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over low heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes, stirring often to keep them for burning. Combine the pine nuts and shallot in a large bowl.

Using the same frying pan over high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the sausage(s). Sauté for about 4 minutes, or until the sausages have some good color. Add them to the bowl with the shallots and pine nuts.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, add some more olive oil if necessary and the corn on the cob. Cook the corn for about 5 minutes, or until it’s nicely colored all over. It’ll make a bit of noise and spit a tiny bit, but don’t worry—the heat shouldn’t be high enough to make it pop and splatter!

Drain the barley {or couscous, if you’re using} and add it to the skillet with the corn, and add salt and pepper to taste. Saute for another minute. Give it a taste, then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.

Add the handful of baby kale leaves, pine nuts, sausage, and shallot, and mix well. Garnish with the dill and parsley and serve.

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