Last Spring I stopped eating wheat for a few months. During that time, to cope with the absence of ever-familiar wheat, I started broadening my grain repertoire. I’ve tried to keep it up since then and this week I challenged myself to figure out roasted buckwheat, also known as kasha. I was pleased to see that it cooked very quickly in the rice cooker (same water to grain ratio as rice, but much faster!) but I was not so excited by its sticky, clumpy texture. It also has a rather distinct, sort of sweet, earthy flavor that I initially felt uninspired by. But, since I had about a pound of it, I decided to challenge myself by making it in three different dishes this week. (please note that, with the exception of the green peas, the vegetables mentioned in each of the recipes here were purchased through my Kilpatrick Family Farm CSA at the Saratoga Springs Farmers Market)
The first, pictured above, is a dish of buckwheat kasha sauteed with leftover roasted winter squash, onions, green peas and local turkey sausage. I started the dish knowing only that I wanted to use the squash, but as I tasted it, even with the sauteed onions, it was still too sweet overall and not interesting enough. Then I remembered that I had the sausage and cooked that in a skillet before adding it to the mixture of the squash and cooked buckwheat. The intense saltiness of the sausage made a perfect compliment to the kasha-squash mixture and I really enjoyed the dish.
Directly below is a photograph of a much simpler use of buckwheat kasha. I left the grain itself plain, but served it, to myself, with sauteed cabbage, slices of grilled polenta with melted cheddar cheese, and a few pieces of the pickled beets Christina made and shared with me. This was a nice, balanced and tasty meal! The cabbage was cooked by sauteing it with onions, tamari, rice vinegar and a little fish sauce. The polenta I bought in tube-form and sliced it in to a pan of hot oil and once it had been flipped I added the cheese to melt on top.
The last meal I made is a simple way to use buckwheat kasha. I sauteed some grated rainbow carrots obtained at he farmers market along with some finely chopped onions and garlic. Once the vegetables were soft, I added the cooked grain, some salt and pepper, and stirred. I have to admit that this photo was taken immediately after the dish was cooked, and the texture actually got less clumpy and more appealing once it was cooled and then reheated. It tasted ok, but I think what I’ve learned about buckwheat kasha is that it is best eaten with strong tart, salty and/or sweet flavors to complement its earthiness.
On to my next grain challenge. I’m thinking maybe millet…