Buckwheat polenta, shallot gravy & beetroot

Buckwheat polenta, shallot gravy & beetroot

Nordic Light
15 mins
Cooking time
35 mins
Simon Bajada

This is a hearty winter bowl, perfect for a cold night. The earthy buckwheat and lemon zest make for a delicious flavour contrast, while any leftovers of the gravy can be used with meats. If you can't find broken or 'cracked' buckwheat groats, use whole ones and crush them with a pestle and mortar after toasting or give them a quick spin in a food processor instead.


Quantity Ingredient
160g cracked buckwheat
1 litre Vegetable stock
175g instant polenta
1 lemon, zested
100g vasterbotten or other hard salty cheese, grated
400ml milk

Shallot gravy

Quantity Ingredient
30g butter
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
500g shallots, peeled
2 carrots, grated
2 tablespoons plain flour
250ml spiced red wine or regular red wine
250ml Vegetable stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 thyme sprigs

Polka beetroot salad

Quantity Ingredient
600g polka or chioggia beetroot
6 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
4 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each fennel and cumin seeds, toasted and ground

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
150g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sumac


  1. To make the beetroot salad, using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, shave the beetroot as thinly as possible into a large bowl of cold water. Mix the remaining ingredients together in another large bowl to make a dressing. Drain the beetroot slices, then add them to the bowl with the dressing and stir through. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  3. For the shallot gravy, heat the butter and oil in a heavy-based casserole dish, add the shallots and sauté over a medium heat for about 4 minutes, or until the shallots are starting to soften. Add the grated carrot and cook for 2–3 minutes until soft, then add the flour and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so to toast the flour slightly, then pour over the wine, stock and vinegar and add the thyme. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. While the gravy is cooking, make the polenta. Put the buckwheat groats in an ovenproof dish or on a baking tray lined with baking paper and toast in the oven for 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, a good pinch of salt and 1 litre of water to a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then add the toasted groats and cook for 12 minutes. Whisk in the polenta and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring regularly (watch out as it can spit), until thick and creamy. Stir in the lemon zest, cheese and milk, remove from the heat and season to taste.
  5. To finish the gravy, remove the lid and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until thickened and reduced.
  6. To serve, spoon the polenta into bowls and pour over the gravy, then top with the mushrooms and sumac. Serve with the beetroot salad.
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