Sunday, November 2, 2008

Grains on the brain (or, how I was fooled by a faking fruit)

Inspired by my recent Ode to Oatmeal, last night I ventured into the grain section of my local grocer. First amaranth, then barley, now farrow and millet. Endless possibilities of whole-grain goodness danced through my head...that is, until my eyes settled on an unassuming box towards the bottom of the shelf. "Kasha?" The name seemed better suited to a Russian poodle than to an oddly pyramidal-shaped, dark-brown grain, but having never met a grain I didn't like, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Into my cart it went where it settled alongside the rest of my impulse buys.

This morning, however, a little pre-breakfast googling revealed a shocking truth. Yes, I had been hoodwinked by this innocent-looking grain...or should I say FRUIT! That's right, though it behaves and tastes a whole lot like a whole grain, Kasha is in fact toasted buckwheat groats. Buckwheat is actually not a wheat at all, but rather a fruit from the same family as rhubarb and sorrel. Ok, maybe not that shocking of a truth, but at the very least a good fact to know for cocktail parties.

My stomach was growling so I put away my laptop (and my indignation at having been tricked by a side-dish) and set to work preparing my kasha. This was my first attempt at cooking it, and I decided to make it into a sweet, breakfast porridge. The result was tasty, simple, filling and unique...could you ask more from your breakfast meal? For those of you stuck in a breakfast rut, I highly recommend seeking out this funny-shaped grain fruit.

Sweet Breakfast Kasha
- Serves 3

1 cup kasha
1 egg, lightly beaten
2.5 cups boiling water
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom or any other sweet spices that you like
Whole milk and your favorite sweetener

Step 1: Beat the egg in a saucepan and then mix the dry cup of kasha and your spices into the egg until everything is evenly coated.

Step 2: Bring water to a boil in a kettle, and then add it to the saucepan with the kasha in it. Bring the entire mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to low heat and cover.

Step 3: Let the kasha simmer for 20 minutes, and then remove from heat.

Step 4: Sprinkle sweetener (I like brown sugar, personally) over the fluffed up kasha and pour milk over the mixture.

Step 5: Tuck right in to your toothsome bowl of breakfast bliss.

If you're cooking for one, toss the extra kasha into a tightly covered container and refrigerate it for tomorrow's breakfast!

For you nutrition nuts out there, I have some more wonderful news: one little serving of kasha has 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, enough to keep your belly happy (and quiet) all the way through your 11am staff meeting. Plus, this audacious snack is filled with vitamins and minerals, especially packing in the magnesium, manganese, copper and niacin.

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Adriana Willsie and Kylie Springman ©2009