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Buckwheat in the Raw

Posted Nov 02 2010 6:54pm

Buckwheat with White Beans & Sage

What do kasha and buckwheat have in common? They’re both triangular, gluten-free seeds that are treated as grains, and they’re both used to make everything from pancakes to pilaf. The only difference between them — and it’s a big one, flavor-wise — is that kasha is roasted buckwheat.

I used to think I wasn’t keen on buckwheat, but that was because I was only finding kasha, not raw buckwheat, and kasha has a much, much stronger flavor than its unroasted cousin. Raw buckwheat, it turns out, has a very mild taste and pleasantly chewy texture.  It reminds me of a hearty millet…except that buckwheat is better for pilafs and salads because holds its shape better.  You’ll know it’s raw buckwheat if it’s cream-colored rather than dark brown; once you taste it, you’ll recognize the difference even more readily.  Raw buckwheat is unfortunately difficult to find, but it’s worth the hunt — to me, at least, its milder flavor makes it much more versatile than seriously smoky-bitter character of kasha.  (My quest for raw buckwheat led me to Barry Farm Foods .  They have a treasure trove of unusual grains and flours!) Whole buckwheat kernels, by the way, are called “groats.” Whole kasha kernels are also called groats.

Buckwheat with White Beans & Sage
Serves 2 for lunch; recipe can easily be doubled, or you can serve this as a side dish. Leftover roasted free-range chicken or freshly sautéed strips of free-range chicken would also be tasty to include in the mix.  If you can’t find buckwheat, you could use brown rice instead, and in the same proportions.

1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats*
1 cup chicken stock, preferably from pastured chickens OR 1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup Great White Northern beans, drained (Eden organic beans are sold in BPA-free cans and are seasoned with sea salt)
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp. dried sage, depending on how much you like sage (I love sage!)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Simmer buckwheat in stock for about 10 minutes or until groats have reached a tenderness that appeals to you. (I like my grains on the crunchy side; you may want to simmer them for 15 minutes.) Stir in remaining ingredients and serve promptly. Talk about an easy, quick meal!

Enjoy!

* If you’re a fan of kasha, by all means use kasha instead.

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