The Japanese rely on miso for the taste sensation of umami it adds to dishes, and I have been cooking with this fermented salty and sweet paste for almost 40 years and find it indispensible in my pantry. The one I use most often is a pale golden type called shiromiso (white miso – although it’s generally not white at all), which is made from rice, barley and soya beans.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4).
- Mix the miso paste with the mirin to loosen it, then stir in the sunflower and sesame oils.
- Brush the mixture thinly on the cut sides of the aubergine.
- Sprinkle on the sesame seeds.
- Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20–30 minutes.
- The aubergine is cooked when you can squeeze it with little resistance.
- Mix the tahini to a slurry with the orange juice.
- Stir in the yogurt, orange zest and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then season with salt.
- Toss the salad leaves with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and divide among your plates.
- Sit the aubergine on top, then scatter with the dates, feta and crispy buckwheat.
- Finally, drizzle over the tahini yogurt, or serve it separately, and sprinkle with the crispy buckwheat and toasted pine nuts.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
For the Crispy Buckwheat
You can make this up to a week in advance and store it in an airtight container. The quantities given here will make more crispy buckwheat than you need for this dish, but once you’ve tasted how good it is, you’ll be sprinkling it onto everything from a simple green salad to a beef stew.
- Pour 500ml (2 cups) of hot (but not boiling) water over the buckwheat in a bowl and leave for 6 hours or overnight.
- Drain into a sieve, then pat dry on a kitchen cloth.
- Pour enough oil into a medium pan or frying pan, about 24cm diameter, to give you 2cm depth.
- Place over a medium heat and when the oil reaches 150°C (300°F), add the drained buckwheat.
- Fry gently, stirring frequently, until the grains begin to stop sizzling and have turned golden brown.
- Drain in a heatproof sieve or small-holed colander, then lay it on baking paper, sprinkle with flaky salt and leave to cool.
- Once the oil has cooled you can strain and reuse it.
Extract from Savour: Salads for all Seasons by Peter Gordon (Jacqui Small, £25).
Main image by Lisa Linder.