This is a traditional stew made typically with Burghul and Pole Beans. My mom always served it with tangy homemade yogurt and pomegranate molasses drizzled on top. I used Buckwheat instead today – one because I was curious how it would work in that dish, and two because I didn’t have any burghul. In any case it worked out great. Buckwheat has a nice rich flavor, and in fact, it’s not a grain at all, it’s actually a fruit (as I recently learned) from a single seed with a hard outer shell, which is removed during the processing. I regularly get buckwheat from our local Asian/Indian market, minus the attractive packaging.
On to the next ingredient, Pole Beans. I’ve been waiting for those for a while to appear at my local market. I really love them, especially cooked in tomato sauce. Getting my hands on Pole beans (or Romano beans) never fails to trigger some memories from past childhood summers back home. During those summers, I used to wake up so early, immediately put on my clothes and run outside to see what my uncles, aunts and cousins were up to (our houses were all set in sort of a cul-se-sac). At that early hour, I would only catch my mom and my aunt Melina sharing coffee in my aunt’s garden, fragrant roses bushes surrounding them, and in most cases they would be preparing some kind of vegetable for lunch: sorting parsley bunches, spinach, legumes, and of course pole beans or romano beans. They would sit with a large tray of freshly picked beans and a bowl to catch the snipped pieces, ready for washing/cooking. I like to snip them the same way, discarding the ends first with a pinch between the fingers, then snipping the pole bean in three or four pieces by hand.
Buckwheat and Pole Beans in Tomato Stew
1 cup buckwheat
1 lb pole beans or romano beans
1/2 lb lamb chunks/stew
5 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 cup water
1 sweet onion, diced
7-9 garlic cloves, whole
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp freshly ground pepper or to taste
Pomegranate molasses to serve
Yogurt to serve
Snip and wash the pole beans. Place in a pot covered with water and bring to a boil for 30 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside. In the same pot, drizzle half the olive oil and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the lamb, the rest of the olive oil and dried mint and sauté for a few minutes until brownish, add the tomatoes, water, salt and pepper (adjust to taste), cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add in the pole beans and the buckwheat, stir gently and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes until buckwheat is soft. It will double in size and absorb all the juices and flavors. Serve with a generous drizzle of pomegranate and yogurt.