All the world is nuts about
What's in The Nut Gourmet
BOASTING ABOUT BUCKWHEAT
Unfortunately buckwheat, also known as kasha and groats, has been shelved in obscure places at the grocery store, if available at all. Healthy, delicious, and easy to cook, buckwheat ought to be a frequent flyer out of everyone's pantry and onto the table. Instead, it is often used as animal feed or tilled into the soil as "green manure." You'll certainly find it in health food markets as well as international groceries.
Includes Recipe Below
Originally cultivated in the cooler countries of Central Asia, buckwheat traveled to Europe and was incorporated into the cuisines of Finland, Austria, northern Italy, France, Russia, and eastern Europe. Buckwheat arrived in the U.S. with Dutch immigrants as early as the 1620s and with the Germans in the late 1600s and early 1700s. These immigrants cultivated many more fields of this grain in New Amsterdam and surrounding regions than we do today.
Nutritionally, buckwheat is close to wheat in its components, though it is not a wheat at all. Rather it is a cereal grain and contains no gluten. For people who struggle with wheat allergies and gluten intolerance, buckwheat is ideal. This grain has plenty of protein and B vitamins and is rich in phosphorus, potassium, iron, and calcium.
Buckwheat is as versatile as rice. Measure it just as you would rice, with 1 cup dry groats to 2 cups water. A soft, quick cooking grain with a pleasing, earthy flavor, buckwheat is available in many forms:
Raw groats - light tan in color with very mild flavor
Toasted groats - rich dark brown color with nutty flavor and aroma
Toasted grits - harder to find, used as cereals
Flour - used for pancakes and added to breads and muffins
STEAMING: First measure, then rinse buckwheat in a fine mesh strainer, but rinse only briefly. Buckwheat tends to absorb water easily because it's so porous. Bring 2 C. water and
1 t. salt to a boil. Add 1 C. rinsed buckwheat. Turn heat down to low, and cook 12 15 minutes. Check the buckwheat halfway through. These grains absorb water so quickly, you want to make sure there is enough liquid to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.
Many recipes call for toasting the groats in a dry skillet with a beaten egg. This dries and separates the grains. I eliminate this step, finding it unnecessary.
KASHA AND VARNISHKES A LA BEVERLY HILLS
This dish involves four separate, but easy, components, and you'll have all four burners going at once. When put together the kasha is so eye appealing, flavorful, and aromatic you'll want to make it often. It's a wonderful centerpiece around which to build a meal and is certain to become a requested favorite.
- Start water heating in a large stock pot while preparing other ingredients.
- Add pasta to boiling water, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.
- Combine onion, carrots, garlic, olive oil, and water in a large skillet or wok, and cook over high heat until soft and almost browned, about 10 to 12 minutes, adding more water as needed. Set aside.
- Combine buckwheat groats, salt and water in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to low and steam for 15 to 20 minutes, checking halfway through to make sure there is sufficient liquid. Set aside.
- Combine pumpkin seeds and walnuts in a dry non-stick skillet and toast over high heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove to a bowl or dish to prevent burning.
- When all the components are cooked, combine them in the large skillet with the carrots and onions. Toss well and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serves 6.
* I prefer these brands of pasta because they cook up tender and
moist, whereas many whole-grain pastas tend to have a drier, grainier texture.