Buckwheat: The Gluten Free ‘Grain’ with History

Buckwheat or beech wheat is an annual herbaceous plant that is part of the Polygonaceae family, the same as spinach and beet. It’s commonly included in the “cereal family” due to its nutritional characteristics, but it would be more correct to call it a pseudo-cereal.

What’s buckwheat’s story?

Studies show that buckwheat has very ancient origins. The first crops were probably in Siberia, Maciuria and China, and then extended to India, Turkey and Japan. It arrived in Europe in the sixteenth century.

Buckwheat – Nutritional Benefits

Buckwheat is suitable for everyone. It is a good source of carbohydrates and is naturally gluten free. It can be a good bread or pasta in the summer. It’s also energizing and easily digestible.

100 grams of buckwheat contain about 343 calories of which:

  • 72 grams of carbohydrates
  • 13 of proteins
  • 3.4 of fat

Buckwheat has a fairly low glycemic index and contains all the essential amino acids, including lysine and tryptophan, generally deficient in cereals.

Furthermore it is a good source of proteins, soluble and insoluble fibers and minerals, it is rich in potassium (more than cereals in general) phosphorus, calcium, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese. It also contains vitamins from group B (B1, B2, PP, B5), important for the nervous system, and vitamin K.

HOW TO COOK SARACEN WHEAT

Buckwheat is a versatile grain and is used in many different types of food products, from breakfast time to dinner time.

From granola and French crepes to Japanese soba noodles and stir frys throughout Asia. Buckwheat flour is also popular, and gluten free, being baked into cakes, muffins, cookies, breads and other snacks.

Buckwheat is already commercially dehulled and ready to use. Its grains are brownish in color and triangular in shape. The taste is sweet and reminiscent of hazelnuts.

The simplest way to taste buckwheat is to cook the beans in boiling water for about 20-30 minutes. Once drained, it’s perfect for preparing soups, salads, pasta dishes and filings.

In summer try it in a salad: boil the grains in salted water, let them cool and season them with extra virgin olive oil, cherry tomatoes, some feta cubes, green and black olives. Buckwheat also goes well with legumes, like cannellini beans.

Buckwheat grains can also be cooked directly in the pan, as you would for a risotto: after roasting in olive oil, add salted hot water (or vegetable broth) and cook. The beans must be soft

Buckwheat Recipes

Can’t wait to get started? Here are three of our favourite buckwheat recipes for sweet and savoury cooking that champion the versatility and flavour of this ancient grain:

Buckwheat Burgers

Looking for vegetarian burger alternatives? Try making this buckwheat burgers to keep your non meat eating friends satisfied.

Find the recipe for buckwheat burgers here.

Buckwheat Cake

You’d never guess that this decadent looking cake is gluten free, but thanks to buckwheat, it is! A tart lingonberry filling compliments the nutty tones of the buckwheat and a fluffy meringue tops it off. Find the only buckwheat cake recipe you need here.

Buckwheat pancakes

Gallettes and buckwheat pancakes are a delicious way to highlight the gastronomic capabiligties of this grain. Find the buckwheat pancake recipe here.

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