Buckwheat is my new favorite kitchen companion. Though often cooked like rice, buckwheat is not a cereal grain, having nothing to do with wheat, but instead the seeds from a plant in the rhubarb (Polygonaceae) family.
I long assumed it was unduly, coarse, and needing hours of cooking to soften its edges. But nope. Buckwheat groats boil to tender in about 15 minutes, or can be baked until crunchy, adding pops of flavor and texture to anything from granola to this roasted root vegetable dish. This ingredient also provides another good option for those avoiding gluten and concerned about sugars, as it’s gluten-free and low on the glycemic index.
My other favorite kitchen companion is a good sheet pan. Most that I grew up with were flimsy, warping as soon as they hit a hot oven, and in general not a joy to use. In restaurant kitchens, sheet pans are heavy-duty, serving a whole host of functions from, of course, roasting to covering pots of boiling water, catching spills, and acting as platters in a pinch.
The only downside to using one item so many ways is the clean-up. Enter: foil. Vegetables don’t stick to the foil the same way they would to the sheet pan—and they brown beautifully, too. After dinner is done, the foil is simply balled up and recycled. I often don’t even need to wash the pan.
In this recipe, I roast the beets and carrots together. I don’t bother peeling the carrots if the skin is tender. Since I find beet skin rarely pleasant to eat, I just peel it with a vegetable peeler before cutting. Beets are a bit denser than carrots and, in general, take longer to cook. Cut them a bit smaller and both vegetables should finish cooking at the same time—plus, by roasting together, the beets will bleed their maroon onto the golden carrots, yielding a sunset-like color palate to the finished dish. (Roasting vegetables with a convection fan on will encourage them to cook more quickly and develop the caramelized exoskeleton hallmark of well-roasted veg.)
Herby yogurt pumped up with citrus is one of my favorite sauces to have on hand because it pairs well with just about anything, including that bag of potato chips that occasionally becomes dinner unto itself. If making in a large enough batch to use throughout the week, the herb is the weak link in this very strong chain. I tend to chop the herbs and store separately so they don’t get weird. The citrus will hold with the yogurt just fine for several days. —abraberens
Test Kitchen Notes
Every month, in Eat Your Vegetables, chef, Ruffage cookbook author, and former farmer Abra Berens shares a seasonal recipe that puts vegetables front and center (where they should be!). Missed an installment? Head here to catch up. —The Editors
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 4
carrots, washed and cut into 2-inch pieces
beets, washed, peeled, and cut into wedges (see Author Notes)
salt (I use Morton’s kosher)
Extra-virgin olive oil
raw buckwheat groats
full-fat plain yogurt
dill, finely chopped
orange, zest only
lemon, zested and juiced
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 sheet pans with foil, leaving an overhang of 1/2 inch or so around the edges.
- Toss the carrots, beets, caraway, and salt in a big glug of olive oil to coat. Spread out the roots on a foil-lined sheet pan. Roast until the roots are tender when pierced with a knife, about 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, dress the buckwheat groats in a big glug of olive oil and pinch of salt and transfer to another foil-lined baking sheet and bake until crispy and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
- While both are in the oven, combine the yogurt, dill, orange zest, lemon zest, and lemon juice with a big pinch of salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust as needed.
- To serve: Distribute the vegetables onto a plate or platter. Dollop the dill yogurt all over. Scatter the crisped buckwheat on top. Serve warm or room temperature.