It’s ironic that most “new” foods and ingredients are actually time-honored traditional ones that other people have never stopped enjoying … but that Americans either forgot about or never found out about to begin with. Buckwheat falls into both categories: it’s a traditional Jewish ingredient (better known as kasha, which is roasted buckwheat kernels), it’s a traditional food in Russia (blinis — which are basically thin crepes — are made with buckwheat), and it’s an essential ingredient in Japanese soba noodles (some are 100% buckwheat; others are a mix of wheat and buckwheat). Americans, though, are probably more familiar with the cereal brand Kashi, which is a wordplay on the beloved kasha. Or perhaps you’ve had a buckwheat pancake or two.
I used to think I wasn’t that keen on buckwheat, but then I realized that kasha/roasted buckwheat tastes quite different than raw buckwheat: the former has a pronounced earthiness while the latter is pleasantly mild. True, some dishes work well with the earthiness of kasha, but overall I prefer the lighter-tasting (and lighter-hued) raw buckwheat, both as a whole groat and a flour. If you’ve only had kasha and weren’t that keen on it, do give raw buckwheat a try. Just don’t step on a raw groat with bare feet! Those pointy triangular-shaped groats have sharp corners.
Also remember that buckwheat is the most confusingly named grain since it has absolutely zero to do with wheat. Buckwheat has no gluten, isn’t remotely related to wheat or any grass/cereal crops, and in fact isn’t even a grain — it’s a seed. But it’s a much larger-than-usual seed and has been ground and used as flour and in porridges for so long that everyone treats it as a grain. Seeing as it works so well in that capacity, I decided to combine cooked buckwheat groats with freshly sliced organic strawberries and whole milk for the perfect bowl of summer cereal.
Strawberries & Buckwheat Cereal
For every cup of buckwheat you prepare, use 2 cups of water. Simmer buckwheat groats — either kasha/roasted groats or raw groats, although I much prefer raw groats when making cereal — for 15 to 20 minutes or until groats have reached their desired softness. I like to combine my groats and water the night before since that way they cook in less than 10 minutes the next day. Drain groats (they will be delightfully non-sticky and easy to deal with) and top with freshly sliced organic strawberries. Top with whole dairy milk (preferably from grass-fed cows), coconut milk, or whatever milk you like.
Your DIY kasha/non-roasted kasha will knock the socks off anything Kashi could ever come up with … and for a fraction of the price since buckwheat groats are about $3/pound and Kashi is about $7/pound. (And that’s only if you’re ordering packs of 6 on Amazon — supermarket prices will be even higher!) Cooked buckwheat can be refrigerated for a week, and you can add whatever fruit, nuts, and/or seeds you have on hand to your bowl each morning. Much more variety than a box of cereal, and a lot more fun, too.
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