Schwarzplenten… Memories of My Childhood

photoThere are certain foods that I strongly associate with my home back in Italy. One of them is buckwheat, as it was grown on the mountainous hills of South Tyrol and is featured prominently in our traditional farmers’ cuisine. Whether in the form of breakfast cereal, “ersatz” burgers, dumplings, a cake or “riebel”, the strong, delicious taste of buckwheat speaks to me of home. If you are in for trying something new, come with me on a culinary trip to my region and give one of these recipes a try. Come and cook with us!

Buckwheat isn’t really a grain but rather a seed of a plant related to rhubarb. Who knew? It is gluten-free, has a low glycemic index (which means it helps regulate your blood sugar), and is a rich source of magnesium and manganese. When toasted, buckwheat groats turn into kashi which have a distinctively different taste; almost bitter with a somewhat aggressive kick. If you cannot find kashi in your store but are interested in trying them, simply roast the buckwheat groats in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often until golden and fragrant.

There are many different ways to prepare buckwheat. You can boil it in plenty of water for 10 to 20 minutes and use it for sides and salads or you can make kashi and then cook it after you’ve coated the toasted groats with a lightly beaten egg to make sure that they don’t stick together while cooking. Because of its sticky texture and relatively quick cooking time, untoasted buckwheat groats can be tossed into stews to thicken them slightly, or added to soups to give them a little more body.

Another interesting buckwheat twist for cooking is buckwheat flour; I use it often for riebel – a puffy, crepe-like dish from my region but it goes well in any flour mix for breads, pancakes, muffins and scones. Venture with me into the lesser known world of buckwheat! Come and cook with us!

Riebel (Tyrolean-Style Buckwheat Pancakes)
Buckwheat Cake
Tartine’s Buckwheat-Hazelnut Sablés

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