Marinated duck and buckwheat salad

    1 hour 35 min

    Buckwheat, or kasha, is available either plain or roasted. When plain buckwheat is toasted and then simmered in stock, it develops a rich nutty flavour. It works perfectly with duck in this hearty main-dish salad.

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    Serves: 4 

    • 450 g (1 lb) boneless duck breasts
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 12 sprigs of fresh thyme
    • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
    • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 225 g (8 oz) buckwheat (kasha)
    • 750 ml (1¼ pints) chicken stock
    • 125 g (4½ oz) thin green beans
    • 200 g (7 oz) mixed salad leaves, such as frisée, lamb's lettuce, mizuna and rocket
    • 5 sprigs of fresh basil, finely shredded
    • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
    • 8 green olives, stoned
    • 8 black olives, stoned
    • 2 medium-sized courgettes, thinly sliced lengthways
    • 12 small spring onions
    • 12 small tomatoes
    • 1½ tbsp red wine vinegar, or a combination of sherry and balsamic vinegars
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:50min  ›  Cook:45min  ›  Ready in:1hr35min 

    1. Remove all the fat and skin from the duck breasts. With a sharp knife, score the flesh on both sides in a criss-cross pattern. Put the breasts in a bowl and add about two-thirds of the garlic, the lemon juice, half of the thyme sprigs, the rosemary and 1 tbsp of the oil. Turn to coat the breasts with the flavourings, then marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
    2. Put the buckwheat in a heavy frying pan and toast over a moderate heat, stirring and tossing, for 4–5 minutes or until it has become slightly darker in colour. Remove from the heat.
    3. Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan, then stir in the toasted buckwheat. Bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook over a low heat for 10–15 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed and the buckwheat is tender. Remove from the heat and set aside, still covered, until ready to use.
    4. Heat a ridged cast-iron grill pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, drop the green beans into a saucepan of boiling water and blanch for 1–2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Cut the beans in half and put into a salad bowl. Add the salad leaves, basil, red onion and olives, and toss to mix.
    5. Remove the duck breasts from the marinade and place on the hot grill pan. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn the breasts over and cook for another 3 minutes (the meat will be rare, so cook longer if you prefer it well done). Remove the duck to a board. Place the courgettes, whole spring onions and whole tomatoes on the grill pan and cook for 1–2 minutes or until lightly charred all over.
    6. Combine the remaining garlic and 2 tbsp oil with the vinegar in a small bowl, and add the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs. Whisk together, then drizzle over the salad. Spoon on the buckwheat and arrange the hot griddled courgettes, spring onions and tomatoes on top. Slice the duck breasts, place over the vegetables and serve.

    Plus points

    Removing the skin and all visible fat from duck lowers the fat content substantially. Skinless duck breast contains only a fraction more fat than skinless chicken breast. Duck meat is rich in the minerals iron and zinc and also provides B vitamins. * Despite its name, buckwheat is not a true grain, but a plant that produces cereal-like seeds. It is gluten-free, so it is suitable for anyone with gluten intolerance. It contains a phytochemical called rutin, which is believed to help reduce high blood pressure.

    Another idea

    For a duck, buckwheat and pumpkin salad, rub the duck breasts with a mixture of 2 chopped garlic cloves, ½ tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp ground cinnamon and ½ tsp cocoa powder, and put in a mixing bowl. Add 150 g (5½ oz) peeled and seeded pumpkin or butternut squash, thinly sliced, and sprinkle over the juice of 1 lemon, the juice of 1 orange and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Turn the ingredients to mix them, then leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Make the green bean and leaf salad and sprinkle with 75 g (2½ oz) dried cherries or fresh blackberries and 1 orange, peeled and segmented. For the dressing, whisk the juice of 1 orange with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsp caster sugar and ¼ tsp paprika. Griddle the duck breasts as in the main recipe, then slice. Griddle the pumpkin for 4–5 minutes. Pour the dressing over the salad, add the kasha and arrange the duck and pumpkin slices on top.

    Each serving provides

    B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, folate, niacin, copper, zinc * A, iron, potassium

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