On the way to the Union Square farmers market yesterday I was met with a downpour of torrential rain. Rather than wait in the steamy subway station I decided to make a run for the Barnes & Noble at the north end of the square. By the time I made it across the street to the bookstore, there was water dripping off my shorts. I threw a furtive glace at the stocky security guard by the entrance and made a bee line for the escalators, leaving a trail of water in my wake.
Upstairs, I hunkered down in the cooking magazine section and started flipping through the rack of cooking magazines. Regular readers know I rarely cook out of cookbooks. This also applies to magazines, which I don’t subscribe to since they have a tendency to wind up in an unread pile in my shoebox of an apartment. Still, I do occasionally enjoy flipping through them since they have more photos than words.
This recipe was inspired by a photo in this month’s Gourmet Magazine. I didn’t actually read much more than the caption and all I can recall is something about “forest wraps” with Romaine Lettuce and Bulgar. After the rain subsided, I went back out to the market and happened upon an amazing looking head of Romaine Lettuce that was still covered with spatters of earth.
I can’t really think of any other dish that makes for an accurate comparison to this one. It’s somewhere between Dolmades, and Vietnamese spring rolls, but has a combo of flavours and textures unlike anything I’ve ever had. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out and gave it about a 20% chance for success. But part of what I enjoy so much about cooking is experimenting, and this turned out to be a great success.
These rolls make for a great light meal while having a lot more substance than a salad. The smokey buckwheat and sweet smoked trout come together with the creamy boiled egg to make a delicious crumbly filling. The steamed lettuce leaf holds it all together, adding its own green vegetal flavour and crunch. The rolls are finished with some minty yogurt sauce and pine nuts that add a creamy tangy bite and freshness to it all.
2 C cooked buckwheat (Kasha)
2 hard boiled eggs chopped
1 Tbs oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 C plain yogurt
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs mint
1/4 tsp salt
1 smoked trout fillet (I used maple smoked trout)
8 large romaine lettuce leaves
chopped pine nuts for garnish
Follow the package directions to make 2 C of cooked buckwheat. For perfect hard boiled eggs, just add 2 eggs to a pot of cold water. Bring the water to a boil, cover then take them off the heat for 8 minutes. Drain and immediately soak in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Peel the eggs, roughly chop and add to the buckwheat.
Mix the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl and pour the dressing over the buckwheat and eggs. Toss to evenly coat.
To make the yogurt sauce, just combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. You can make the filling and the sauce up to a day in advance and keep them in the fridge.
When you’re ready to make the rolls, thoroughly wash the lettuce then stack them in a hot steamer. Cook for about a minute or until the leaves have wilted (the rib running down the middle will still be hard). Transfer to a bowl of cold water then gently squeeze the excess water out of the leaves.
Lay a lettuce leaf on a prep surface and gently unfold the leafy part (see first photo below). Using a sharp knife, cut about 1/3 of the center rib out as shown in the photo below. Place some crumbled smoked trout along the middle 1/3rd and top with a few small spoonfuls of the buckwheat egg mixture (see second photo below).
Fold the flaps (where you cut the rib out) over the filling and across each other (see the photos below). Fold other side of the leaf in the same way then roll the leaf using your fingers to hold the stuffing in.
To serve, just top with the yogurt sauce and chopped pine nuts. If you’re taking them on a picnic it will probably be easier to dip the rolls in the sauce like a spring roll.