Recipe Friday: Autumn Salad with Roasted Buckwheat, Walnuts and Labneh

In the second of our recipes from Alex Hely-Hutchinson of London's 26 Grains restaurant, we bring you a hearty autumn salad. That's also rather pretty. Alex says, " Autumn is my favourite season; I’m known for being endlessly distracted by the light, colours and the produce. In my little garden I can watch the pears on the tree grow plump and hot pink chard stems sprouting up. The air becomes just cool enough to hang the labneh on any outside door handle, to let it strain. You can let it drip into a bowl while you get started on pickling the beetroot and preparing the salad. Buckwheat adds a unique earthy crunch to the salad and lends a smokiness when it’s all combined."

Serves 4

For the labneh:

200g Greek-style yogurt
200g natural yogurt
Pinch of sea salt
For the beetroot pickle
1 beetroot, thinly sliced with a mandoline
1 golden beetroot, thinly sliced with a mandoline
60ml apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Pinch of sea salt
¼ teaspoon dill seeds
¼ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

For the salad:

100g buckwheat groats, soaked in water for 30 minutes
4 tablespoons olive oil
200g rainbow chard, stems removed, washed and torn
1 pear, cored and thinly sliced
1 cucumber, sliced into8cm sticks
Bunch of radishes, washed and halved
Juice of 1 lemon
½ garlic clove, crushed with a little sea salt
Sea salt and black pepper
30g walnuts, roughly chopped, to serve (optional)

Make the labneh first, either the night before or over the course of an afternoon. Combine the yogurts and salt in a bowl, then transfer to a sheet of muslin or a clean tea towel, pull up the sides, tie up the top with an elastic band or string and suspend over a bowl to let the liquids drain out for at least 6 hours, or overnight if possible.

Meanwhile place all the ingredients for the beetroot pickle in a bowl with 60ml/4 tablespoons of water. Leave to pickle in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

The following day, rinse the soaked buckwheat under running hot water for 2 minutes, then drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a frying pan and place over a medium-low heat. Add the buckwheat and toast for 2 minutes until golden, stirring continuously so it doesn’t burn.

Mix the rainbow chard, pear, cucumber, pickled beetroot, radishes, remaining olive oil, lemon juice and garlic together and season well with sea salt and pepper. Stir in half the toasted buckwheat.

Divide between 4 plates and top with a good dollop or so of labneh, a sprinkle of the remaining buckwheat and walnuts, if using.

 Alex Hely-Hutchinson's Autumn Salad.

Alex Hely-Hutchinson's Autumn Salad.

  26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchinson is published by Square Peg at £20, out now.

26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchinson is published by Square Peg at £20, out now.