Healthy, vegetarian or vegan buckwheat or kasha recipe with lots of vegetables.
I've been very much into buckwheat lately. Most of the time in a buckwheat soup, but often enough as a kind of quick stir-fry like today's vegetarian or vegan buckwheat recipe, as buckwheat porridge for breakfast (sweet), or bread.
Love it, no matter how it's cooked. And the best part about it is that my children eat it as well, despite it being such a new discovery and so different from the usual rice, for instance.
I discovered it during our holiday in Poland about one and a half years ago and I have been hooked ever since. We had it for breakfast there, a savory kasha dish, which was so very unsightly yet so delicious. I bought a packet of it in Poland and cooked my first kasha with mushrooms and onions shortly after being back home.
What is buckwheat?
Despite the misleading name buck-wheat, it is not a grain and it is not related to wheat. Like quinoa or amaranth, it belongs to a group of food called pseudocereals, meaning that these seeds are consumed just like cereal grains, but do not grow on grasses. Its grains are actually the seeds of a flowering plant, which is related to rhubarb and sorrel.
Buckwheat is considered an ancient grain as it has been cultivated for over 8000 years. Apparently, it was a very common crop all over the world until the introduction of nitrogen fertilizer during the 20th century helped increase the production of corn and wheat.
As it is not technically a grain, but a seed, it is naturally gluten-free. It can be processed into flour or noodles and that makes it a great choice for people suffering from celiac disease.
What is kasha?
Kasha is buckwheat groats, which have been roasted and it is also the name used for the porridge dish made from groats. In the US it is more commonly known as buckwheat groats.
It is a common dish in Eastern Europe, but mostly in Poland, Russia and Ukraine. I am from Romania, so Eastern Europe as well, but I have never seen kasha or buckwheat in Romania. I knew the name, mostly from books, but never seen it or eat it there. Apparently, kasha is one of the oldest known dishes in the Eastern European region, at least 1,000 years old.
How to cook buckwheat or kasha?
Cooking the groats or kasha is not difficult, but you do have to pay attention to how long you cook it and how much water you use. Kasha should not turn completely soft and mushy.
I don't mind if the groats are slightly overcooked when making a soup, I feel that makes the soup more comforting and appealing to me, but when making another kind of recipe, I prefer to be able to bite on them, instead of eating them overcooked and watery.
Buckwheat - water ratio:
- Most kasha recipes would instruct you to use a 1 to 2 ratio of groats and water, so 1 cup buckwheat to 2 cups water.
- However, I always use less water, so 1 cup buckwheat to 1 ¾ cup water. I make sure that the lid of the pan fits well so that not too much steam can escape.
How long should you cook buckwheat?
- That is the main issue if you ask me.
- Definitely check the packet's instructions, they can differ so much, from 7-8 minutes on some to 15-18 minutes on others. So, make absolutely sure to check the packet's instructions before you start cooking the buckwheat, no matter what the recipe you are following is instructing you to do.
- I bought the roasted buckwheat groats used in this vegan kasha recipe in the Russian store, so definitely a typical Russian product. There were no cooking instructions on the package, so I started checking the food after 8 minutes of cooking time. In the end, I cooked them for 11 minutes and the groats were just as I wanted them to be.
How to cook buckwheat with vegetables?
The buckwheat and the vegetables are cooked separately, which makes the roasted buckwheat recipe a good one for people who are cooking with buckwheat for the first time. By cooking them in separate pots, you can make sure that you do not overcook the groats, while you wait for the veggies to be cooked.
- Chop the vegetables.
- In the meantime, bring the vegetable broth for the buckwheat to a boil. You can use plain water to cook the kasha, but in this case, I prefer vegetable broth. Using a good-quality vegetable broth/bouillon cube is fine.
- When the broth is cooking, add the rinsed groats, cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and cook until softer, but still al dente.
- Please regard the packet's instructions and start checking the kasha 2-3 minutes before the time is up, this way you can make sure that the grains are not overcooked.
- Heat the oil in a pan, cook the onions for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic, peppers, and leeks. Cook for about 3-4 minutes more until slightly softer. Add the tomatoes, spices, and some vegetable broth. Cook until the vegetables are done to your liking, about 10 minutes, and adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- Add the cooked buckwheat to the vegetables, and stir well but carefully.
- Adjust the taste again with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice if necessary.
How to serve vegan kasha?
You can serve it as it is and keep it vegan this way. However, if you are not looking for a totally vegan meal, I recommend serving the kasha and vegetables with a yogurt and carrot sauce. Or use dairy-free yogurt and maple syrup to make the dip.
To make the carrot and yogurt sauce, mix 2 medium grated carrots with 250 g/ 1 cup creamy yogurt (Greek yogurt or dairy-free yogurt). Stir and add the juice of ½ lemon, about 1 ½ teaspoon of maple syrup/runny honey, some dried mint and sea salt, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir again and add 2-3 tablespoons of nut milk, if not runny enough.
More recipes with grains
- Roasted Buckwheat Salad
- Homemade Sugar-Free Muesli
- Ancient Grain Salad (with Spelt)
- Mediterranean Parsley Salad
- Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini (with Millet)
Roasted Buckwheat with Vegetables – Vegan Kasha Recipe
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ about 1 cup buckwheat groats Notes 1 and 2
- 350 ml/ 11.8 fl. oz/ 1 ¾ cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions about 150 g/ 5.3 oz
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 bell peppers
- 1 leek about 120 g/ 4.2 oz (Note 3)
- 15 cherry tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon hot chili flakes to taste
- juice from 1 lemon
- 250 ml/ 8.4 fl.oz/ 1 cup vegetable broth
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Carrot and yogurt sauce:
- 2 medium carrots
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz/ 1 cup dairy-free yogurt Note 4
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 ½ teaspoon runny maple/agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare the vegetables. Chop the onions finely. Chop the garlic as well. Cut the peppers into thin strips. Halve the leeks lengthwise, if very thick, and cut the halves into thin half rounds. Set aside.
- In the meantime, bring the vegetable stock used for cooking the buckwheat groats to a boil. When the liquid boils, add the rinsed buckwheat groats, cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer on low heat until done to your liking. Check the buckwheat's package instructions regarding the cooking times, they can differ from pack to pack and sometimes a lot. Check the buckwheat 2-3 minutes earlier than indicated on the package, just to make sure you don't overcook it. It should be soft but still, have a good bite. Mushy buckwheat is not so good.
- Heat the oil in a larger and deeper pan. Cook the onions for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, peppers, and leeks. Stir well and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until slightly softer.
- In the meantime, halve the cherry tomatoes. Add them to the pan together with the smoked and sweet paprika powder, turmeric, chili flakes, lemon juice, and vegetable broth.
- Cover, turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until done to your liking.
- Add the cooked kasha to the vegetable pan and stir well but carefully.
- Adjust the taste generously with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and the remaining lemon juice.
Carrot and yogurt sauce:
- Grate the peeled carrots on the larger box grater. Place them in a bowl.
- Add the yogurt, lemon juice, honey, dried mint, sea salt, and pepper. Stir well.
- Add a few tablespoons of nut milk to give it a runnier consistency, if desired. Adjust the taste again and serve.
- Either use grams and milliliters together to weigh the buckwheat groats and vegetable broth or only cups, do not mix the two measuring methods together. 200 g buckwheat groats are slightly less than 1 cup.
- Check the buckwheat's package instructions regarding the cooking times, they can differ from pack to pack and sometimes a lot. Check the buckwheat 2-3 minutes earlier than indicated on the package, just to make sure you don't overcook it. It should be soft but still, have a good bite. Mushy buckwheat is not so good.
- I indicate the gram/oz quantity because leeks can come in very different sizes. A regular German leek is huge, I only used about ⅓ of it for this dish.
- Or use Greek yogurt and honey if not cooking vegan.