It's gluten-free, nubby in shape and earthy in flavor. What are we talking about? Buckwheat, of course! While most folks think of buckwheat as a grain, it's actually a plant similar to rhubarb. And while many Americans use it ground into its characteristically silky purple/gray flour for crepes and pancakes, today bakers are moving far beyond pancakes to give buckwheat its day in the spotlight.
When you go to the store to buy buckwheat, you'll have two choices: the pale-green colored groats and the already roasted reddish groats called kasha. If you're new to buckwheat, the milder groats are an easier sell as kasha tends towards a grassier flavor. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about buckwheat's growing popularity amongst pastry chefs, noting the opportunity to draw out its unique flavor profile into a number of desserts including cookies, biscuits, and crisps. Whereas so many folks avoided the pseudo-grain because of its heady (often described as grassy) flavor, more and more are now taking advantage of it in their favorite recipes. Because it's gluten-free, buckwheat flour is tough to use all on its own when baking, but when combined with other whole-grain flours and ingredients, chefs and bakers are finding true magic in the kitchen.
Related: Good Grains: What is Buckwheat?
(Image: Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks)