I have long been a fan of buckwheat ever since I tasted French crepes which are made from its flour. Buckwheat flour has a clean, nutty flavour and it makes great pancakes. It can also be mixed with other flour to make excellent cakes.
The only thing is, buckwheat flour does not contain gluten – which is good if you have coeliac disease but not so good if you are a baker. Gluten gives structure to baked goods and pasta which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted an organic gluten free penne made with Buckwheat flour. The penne has a great chewy texture, lovely flavour and was really great to eat with a good flavoursome sauce. It also cooks faster than regular pasta – mine took just 7 minutes.
The nutritional composition of buckwheat flour is impressive. It has a higher protein and fibre content than dried white pasta made from durum wheat. A regular 75g serving (dry weight) is low in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) which can trigger gut ymptoms in some people. It costs £2.99 for a 500g pack. I did notice the penne expanded quite a lot on cooking so you might need to serve 60g rather than the more usual 75g serving. So my advice would be to give it a try it if you don’t get on with other pasta. It is a really great alternative.
Buckwheat penne with aubergine, tomato and crispy Parma ham
This recipe is low in FODMAPs in the quantities specified. If you are new to eating buckwheat in the form of soba noodles or pasta. Try a small portion first. Give it a few hours to check if you have symptoms. If you are OK try a larger portions next time.
- 1 large aubergine, cut into 1 cm cubes, sprinkled with salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 gloves garlic, sliced
- 4 anchovies, cut up roughly
- 4 ripe tomatoes, cores removed and roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 tablespoon black olives, stoned removed and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp pinenuts
- 8-10 sweet cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 80 g Parma ham (Prosciutto)
- 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- a few basil leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 200g buckwheat penne
Preheat the oven to 200C. Leave the aubergine with the salt for about 15minutes or until you see droplets of moisture appearing on the flesh. Rinse and allow the water to drain away.
Heat the oil on a large saucepan and gently fry the garlic until just beginning to brown. Remove the garlic from the pan and discard (this is the part of the garlic that is high in FODMAPs). Add the chopped anchovies to the oil and allow them to melt with the heat. They give great flavour to Italian tomato based sauces. Add the chopped aubergine to the pan, toss in the garlic flavoured oil, cover the pan with a lid and cook gently for 10 minutes until the aubergine is very soft. This is important – aubergines must be cooked until soft otherwise they taste awful!
Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, capers and olives and continue to cook the sauce returning the lid of the pan to keep the moisture in. Season well and allow to cook. Add a little water if the sauce becomes too dry. Stir the cherry tomato halves through the aubergine sauce just before serving.
Lay the Parma ham and pine nuts on separate baking trays and place the baking tray in the oven for a few (try 5) minutes. Remove the Parma ham and pine nuts from the oven when golden brown and crispy and set on one side.
Put the buckwheat penne on to boil for 5 – 7 minutes (or according the instructions on the pack) in plenty of lightly salted water. Drain the penne and divide into four bowls.
Top with the aubergine sauce and scatter with toasted pine nuts, Parma ham, grated Parmesan cheese and torn basil leaves. This is a lovely summery supper. We loved it and hope you do to0.
Any left over can be eaten for lunch the following day.
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For more info on managing your sensitive gut see The IBS Network