Curiosity guides many of my recipe choices but so do health, budget and taste. It's karma when all four collide! This fall I set off to explore whole grains, knowing that I, along with too many of us, know far too little about such an important group of foods. To narrow the field, I decided to stick with the healthiest whole grains -- barley, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, spelt and whole wheat. I recognized all of these whole grains -- but since my vegetarian days two states and two decades ago, haven't cooked five of them, barley, buckwheat, millet, rye and spelt. Would karma prevail?
First up: buckwheat, which is actually a grass not a a grain like other cereal plants such as wheat and oats and rice. There are two good ways to experiment with buckwheat.
Buckwheat Flour Buckwheat flour is a nutty-tasting flour and because it's gluten-free, a favorite among those who live with celiac disease. It's the favored flour for blini, the tiny Russian pancakes and in buckwheat crepes in northern France. For anyone new to buckwheat, this is a good place to start. You won't likely find buckwheat flour alongside the all-purpose flour, however. At least in my groceries, it's in a special section with other less common flours, or in the bulk aisle, or in the 'natural foods' aisle. (Ever wonder what a grocery store is doing with all that 'unnatural food' they sell? Yeah, me too.)
Buckwheat Groats Here, the hulls are removed, leaving the 'groats'. Buckwheat groats can be purchased raw or roasted. Again, check the bulk aisle, or a special section with products from Bob's Red Mills.
Kasha (or Kashi) These are names that buckwheat groats have acquired in the U.S., a confusion, however, since outside the U.S., the term kasha or kashi refers to a hot porridge made from any grain, wheat, oats, millet and others. So really, the term 'buckwheat kasha' is more accurate than just 'kasha'.
TASTING BUCKWHEAT GROATS My research led me to believe that buckwheat has a 'strong and distinctive flavor' -- which I took as code for "it might be an acquired taste" which implies, of course, we should be prepared to not like it. It's described as 'bold' and 'toasty' and 'earthy'. But -- my goodness, sure buckwheat groats taste a little nutty and earthy, but those are good things. I certainly didn't find anything to object to, not anything even particularly strong or distinctive. This is good stuff!
BUCKWHEAT with MUSHROOMS & CARROTS
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 4 cups
Recipe adapted from Nami-Nami
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup (6 ounces) buckwheat groats, rinsed under running water
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, quartered lengthwise, then cut into small pieces crosswis
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, caps broken into pieces and stems roughly chopped
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil til shimmery on MEDIUM HIGH. Add the buckwheat and stir to coat with fat, let cook for a minute or two. Add the onion and carrots as they are prepped, stir to coat with fat, let cook until onions begin to turn gold. Stir in salt and pepper. Stir in boiling water. Cover, reduce heat to MEDIUM and let simmer about 15 minutes until the buckwheat is soft and the liquid fully absorbed.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil til shimmery. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat with fat. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked and the liquid they express has evaporated.
To serve, stir the cooked mushrooms into the cooked buckwheat. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.
~ Carrot & Mushroom Ragout ~
~ Roasted Carrots & Mushrooms with Thyme ~
~ more vegetable & whole grain recipes ~
~ more vegetable with beans, lentils, other legumes ~
~ more vegetarian suppers ~
PRINT JUST A RECIPE! Now you can print a recipe without wasting ink and paper on the header and sidebar. Here's how.