Buckwheat

Buckwheat is Not a Wheat

japanese_buckwheat_flower

This is the buckwheat plant. It certainly doesn’t look like a grass, because it’s not a grass.

Let’s get it straight-buckwheat is not a wheat, as misleading as the name sounds. In fact, unlike wheat, it is not a grass at all. Interestingly, buckwheat is related to sorrel, rhubarb, and knotweed. It contains no gluten, and is suitable for people on gluten-free diets. I’ve included a recipe for cooking kasha (dry-toasted buckwheat groats) below to help get you started.

buckwheat

Buckwheat up close. Note that the seeds are distinctively triangular.

What Buckwheat Is 

Let’s take the mystery out of this nutritious seed, which should be a staple in both vegan diets as well as gluten-free diets. The official name of buckwheat is Fagopyrum esculentum. The triangular seeds of this plant are harvested. Cultivation began in Asia during ancient times, and it then spread to the Middle East and Europe. Buckwheat can grow in low-fertility or acidic soils, and is a short-season crop.

It is now produced in large yields in Russia and China.

Buckwheat is Nutritious

Buckwheat provides excellent complex carbohydrates. It contains a good amount of protein, and high amounts of niacin and riboflavin. It is a good source of pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and folate. High amounts of minerals are present, especially manganese, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. There is lots of fibre in there too. Clearly, if you want a fine alternative to the usual rice or pasta, you definitely want buckwheat in your cooking repertoire.

You’ve Probably Already Eaten Buckwheat Noodles

Buckwheat noodles are popular in Asian cuisine. Pancakes made from buckwheat flour are quite good. Here is a vegan buckwheat pancake recipe.

How to Make Kasha

As mentioned previously, kasha is toasted buckwheat groats, (groats are hulled kernels of whole grains, though buckwheat is not actually a grain but a pseudo grain). If your regular grocery store doesn’t carry it, you can find kasha at most health food stores. Kasha is good for breakfast, or you can have it at lunch or dinner with your protein and vegetables. At Green Cuisine, kasha makes an appearance sometimes for the dinner buffet.

This recipe makes two cups of kasha. If you have buckwheat but it is not toasted, you can toast it yourself.

Ingredients

1 cup toasted buckwheat groats

1¾ cups water

1-2 tablespoons vegan butter or coconut oil

½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. First, rinse your buckwheat several times, and drain off the water.
  2. In your medium saucepan, put in your buckwheat groats, and add the 1¾ cups of water, 1 or 2 tablespoons of vegan butter/coconut oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Turn on the heat to high until it reaches the point of boiling. Put on the lid and turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer at low heat, covered, for about 15-20 minutes. The water should all be absorbed.
    kasha

    This is kasha, with some vegan butter on top.