Grain Brains Challenge
A recipe challenge to help you get whole grains into your mouth, not just your kitchen.
Buckwheat is one of those good for you foods that are hard to use. I tend to buy groats or kasha when I’m on a mission to expand my food horizons and the stuff sits in the cupboard, collecting time.
Buckwheat flour is a lot easier to embrace. I haven’t met a buckwheat pancake I didn’t like. Even though I am partial to – or perhaps obsessed with – this type of food, there is a luxury to buckwheat flour, and buckwheat batters, that I adore. I go for the dark flour, the kind that has all its fiber intact. I love the shades of blue and gray the batters make, and the combo of buckwheat and blueberries is just beautiful.
Buckwheat is healthy on a number of levels. When I was on a diet to decrease food intolerances, I was eating rotationally. I had buckwheat on the days I could eat rhubarb: they are in the same family. Not what you’d call your dream eat combo – I don’t know that I actually ever merged them. The idea behind a rotation diet is to give your body a break from foods, and minimize reactions you might have to their components. Buckwheat helps in other rotations, too.
Ideally, farmers rotate crops to strengthen soil’s defenses against pressures from diseases and pests. Planting the same crop year after year in the same ground leaves plants vulnerable. Organic grain farmers use buckwheat to interrupt disease and pest cycles, and otherwise strengthen soils.
Barley, wheat and rye are grasses, and their seeds are called grains; buckwheat is not a true grass and its seed is actually dubbed a pseudograin. Organic farmers – not just grain farmers, but vegetable farmers too – love what buckwheat does to soil. The crop’s very fine root system builds up organic matter. Fluids that come from the roots mineralize phosphorus, and microbes living around those roots are also beneficial. The fact that it’s planted at a time when nothing else is planted, the end of June or early July, keeps the weeds off balance.
Does this information help me feel better about eating buckwheat? I think so. But righteousness doesn’t build a great meal – taste does. Otherwise, the fabled wave of health foods in the sixties and seventies might have lasted.
In a little buckwheat dive, I tried recipes from Whole Grains for a New Generation and The Grains Cookbook. The kasha and smoked fish cakes from the first book were tasty when amplified mine with lots of garlic scapes. The kasha-radish salad in the second book was yummy.
But my favorite is buckwheat crepes. I’ve made them 100% buckwheat but I like them better with just half. We had them Sunday with a nice sauce, and I made them again today with that sauce, cucumbers and kippers.
RECIPE: Buckwheat Crepes
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/3 cup cooked kasha, optional
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- ½ tsp salt
- Blend all the ingredients together and let sit for at least half an hour, or overnight in the fridge. I cook mine on a well buttered 10 inch griddle, and use about 1/3 cup batter, tilting to coat the pan.
RECIPE: Garlic Scape Yogurt Sauce
- 1 cup Greek style yogurt
- 2 oz feta cheese
- ¼ cup butter, soft
- 3 garlic scapes, chopped
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- ¼ cup chopped dill
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Chop the scapes, scallions and dill roughly, and put in a food processor with the other ingredients.
- Combine thoroughly and let sit a little to blend flavors before using.