Buckwheat is a pseudocereal, the name for seeds from nongrass plants commonly consumed in the same way as grains. (Quinoa is also a pseudocereal.) Buckwheat is the seed of the Fagopyrum esculentum plant, which is related to rhubarb and sorrel. A grain and a seed are similar, but not identical. A grain is the small edible fruit harvested from grassy crops. A seed is an ovule that contains an embryonic plant. Both seeds and grains are highly nutritious and should be eaten in their whole, unprocessed forms.
Buckwheat is considered an “ancient grain,” meaning a plant that has been cultivated for centuries, even millennia. Other examples of ancient grains include quinoa, barley, rye and millet. All types of ancient grains are whole grains, and, for that reason alone, they deserve consideration as a part of your healthy diet. A large body of scientific evidence illustrates the spectacular health benefits of consuming whole grains daily.
Buckwheat has no relation to wheat and is gluten-free. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other cereals, but it is not found in seeds. Buckwheat groats (the hearty, hulled seed of the buckwheat plant) can be eated roasted or in products such as buckwheat flour and kasha. Buckwheat is the primary ingredient in Japanese soba noodles. (If you’re avoiding gluten, check the label. Many brands include some wheat flour as well.) Buckwheat is exceptionally rich in fiber, which most Americans don’t get enough of.
Experience its toasty, nutty flavor and a soft, chewy texture with this fiber-packed recipe.
- 4 cups uncooked bow tie pasta
- 2 large white onions, chopped
- 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup roasted whole-grain buckwheat groats (kasha)
- 1 large egg, at room temperature and beaten lightly
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, heated
- ½ tsp. salt
- Dash pepper
- Minced fresh parsley
Cook pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, sauté onions and mushrooms in oil in a large skillet until lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Combine buckwheat groats and egg in a small bowl and add to the same skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for two to four minutes or until the buckwheat is browned, separating grains. Add the hot broth, salt, and pepper.
Bring to a boil. Add the onion mixture. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Drain the pasta, add to pan, and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
Nutrition per serving (3/4 cup): 270 calories, 6 g fat, 28 mg cholesterol, 408 mg sodium, 47 g total carbohydrate, 4 g sugars, 4 g fiber, 9 g protein.