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[Photograph: Vanessa K. Rees]

Buckwheat is the pseudo-grain (actually a seed) most associated with Eastern European cooking, often found as kasha or in blinis. It's also the flour used in Japanese soba noodles. So why, WHY, is this killer salad from Terry Hope Romero's new vegan cookbook, Salad Samurai, the first place I've seen soba noodles married with Eastern European flavors? And why didn't I think of doing that myself?? The noodles are the perfect vehicle for classic Polish ingredients. Romero hits the nail on the head by combining soba with celery-seed-dusted roasted beets, crisp cucumbers, and scallions in a slightly sweet, very dilly dressing. White beans and toasted walnuts add the nutrition and bulk to make this a totally satisfying, rather ingenious meal.

Why I picked this recipe: Any recipe that makes me smack my head for not coming up with it first is worth a try.

What worked: Everything. Slippery noodles, creamy beans, crunchy walnuts, and perfectly evocative flavor combinations. Delicious.

What didn't: This is just me nit-picking, but the preparation of the ingredients in the photo do not align with the instructions. But whatever, the salad is terrific.

Suggested tweaks: This was super tasty the following day, as well!

As usual, we have 5 copies of Salad Samurai to give away this week.

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