How to cook with Kasha

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Kasha, also known as buckwheat groats, is another great way to experience the nutrition, health benefits, and great taste of whole grain.
Kasha, despite the fact it sounds like a well known food company, is another great way to experience the nutrition, health benefits, and great taste of whole grain.

In Eastern Europe, the term "kasha" refers to porridge, but in the United States, “kasha” has become the slightly more attractive name for hulled buckwheat, also known as buckwheat groats.

While the prospect of eating something called a groat is less than fantastic, kasha can add both texture and flavor to vegetarian dishes, make soups more hearty, or stand on their own in whole grain salads, pilafs, or alone.

Even better, kasha is incredibly easy to prepare: put about a cup into a saucepan and dry roast it on medium-high for 3 to 5 minutes; this helps develop its natural flavors. Next, add about 1 1/2 cups of boiling water or stock to the saucepan and simmer the kasha for 15 to 20 minutes. Some recipes also say that you can add the boiling stock to the kasha, cover it, and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes instead of simmering the entire time.

Once you have cooked the kasha, you can keep it warm and use it in a number of hot dishes.

Currently, the most popular kasha dish on the Internet is called “Kasha Varnishkes,” which was made popular by cookbook author Mark Bittman when he shared his grandmother’s simple recipe for the dish.

To make the dish, all Bittman had to do was cook some onions in chicken fat and then mix in cooked kasha and bowtie pasta (also known as varnishkes).

The simplicity of the dish shows just how important kasha can be on its own. In all, the kasha varnishkes' dish only has five ingredients, not counting salt and pepper. However, with all due apologies to Bittman, his mother, and his grandmother, there is more that can be done with kasha. Some of it is almost as simple, too.

Beef Kasha Soup

Beef barley soup is a fine, filling soup that is perfect as the weather turns cold, but it’s also pretty standard fare. Here is a version that uses kasha instead of barely for a different texture, but all of the same healthy benefits.

Ingredients:
  • 1 package beef stew meat
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup kasha
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Directions:
  1. Take the stew meat out of the refrigerator to let it come to room temperature; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and the onions; sauté until the onions are browned, about 12 to 15 minutes; add the stew meat and brown it.
  3. While the meat is browning, add the kasha to a skillet and roast it for 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add the beef stock and turn the heat to high. When the stock is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and add the kasha.
  4. Let the kasha cook about 5 minutes, then add the carrots and the potato; cook until the vegetables are fork tender and the kasha is done.

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