Buckwheat + asparagus + haloumi + capers + zingy herbs = *chef kissing fingers* (Photo: Emma Boyd)

Recipe: Buckwheat and asparagus salad

Nutty buckwheat pairs beautifully with those delicious green spears for a light lunch or addition to a spring dinner spread. 

Asparagus season is well and truly upon us, and it can be enjoyed many ways – lightly steamed, grilled on the barbecue wrapped in bacon, in salads, with egg for breakfast. In this recipe the spears are briefly blanched to retain a lovely crunch and are paired with nutty buckwheat, salty capers, haloumi and lots of fresh, zingy herbs. Use whatever herbs you might have on hand. Now that spring has sprung, my herb garden is bursting at the seams and lemon balm seems to be the variety that dominates, so I use it often in my cooking. It adds a lovely lemony zing to dishes, can be steeped as a tea or added to summery cocktails. It’s a medicinal herb that’s traditionally been used to treat insomnia, anxiety and depression, so if you don’t already grow it, then it’s well worth giving it a go!  


Serves 4

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • ½ red onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 200g haloumi, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cooked buckwheat
  • 1 cups herbs, lightly packed (I used lemon balm, mint and parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ½ cup (70g) pine nuts, toasted

Snap the ends off the asparagus and cut into four or five pieces on the diagonal. Put into a Pyrex jug, cover with boiling water and leave for 3 minutes before draining and setting aside. 

Put the red onion in a little bowl and pour over 1 tablespoon of the red wine vinegar. In a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium-high heat fry the haloumi until golden. Set aside.

Put the remaining vinegar, lemon juice, oil, honey, mustard and garlic in a small jar, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, close the lid and shake well until it emulsifies. 

Pour the dressing over the buckwheat, add the red onion, herbs and capers and mix well to combine. Arrange on a serving platter or bowl and top with the asparagus, haloumi and pine nuts as well as flowers if desired (I used cornflower petals). Serve immediately. 

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