Buckwheat was originally domesticated in the Himalayas. Contrary to what most believe, buckwheat is not a true grain. It’s actually a seed that belongs to the rhubarb family, not wheat as its name implies.
Over the past few years, there has been a resurgence of buckwheat in North America. Plenty of people looking for alternatives to wheat have rediscovered ancient buckwheat.
Rich in nutty, earthy flavours, buckwheat also offers iron and plenty of fibre. Although buckwheat is gluten-free, it’s important to test it in small amounts if you’ve never tried it before and could possibly have an allergy to buckwheat. In Japan and China, where refined buckwheat is used in abundance, they’re noticing allergies are on the rise.
Buckwheat is very diverse and has many applications, both savoury and sweet. Russian and Eastern European cuisines frequently use buckwheat as well, specifically blinis or mini pancakes. As mentioned earlier, buckwheat is popular in Japan. It’s used to make soba noodles for soups, salads and more. In Northern Italy, pizzoccheri is a buckwheat noodle dish that is very delicious. A word of caution: if you are on a strict gluten-free diet for medical reasons, be sure to read the ingredients when buying any variety of buckwheat (or soba) noodle. Many are made with a combination of buckwheat and wheat flours.
Whole buckwheat can be used to impart earthy flavours in many dishes: soups, salads, fritters or savoury cakes. You can use it in place of breadcrumbs and add cooked buckwheat to your raw meatloaf mix. Think about switching out your morning oats and making buckwheat porridge. Believe it or not, buckwheat can even be used in some risotto recipes.
Crepes are a very popular use for buckwheat. Most people are familiar with sweet crepes. However, there are countless ways to make to make savoury crepes. Stuff them with potatoes, cabbage bacon and cheese or fill them with ricotta and spinach for a quick and decadent dinner or lunch.
No matter how you serve it, buckwheat is a diverse and delicious grain. Hopefully after trying buckwheat, it’ll have a home in your kitchen pantry.
Buckwheat and quinoa and wheat berries, oh my. Antonio is always experimenting with different grains in his kitchen. For buckwheat recipes, see the recipe section of Choices Website at choicesmarkets.com. You can even pick up one more of Choices Wellness Guides for more revolutionary recipes from Antonio.