Before moving on to the Slovenian rye bread I promised in my last post, I wanted to present this somewhat overdue public service announcement that kasha lovers will appreciate.
I have discovered the key to perfectly textured buckwheat: Oven-toasting.
Avoiding mushiness is especially important when you are using it in a salad. Like kasha mediterranean, the Slovenian-style adaptation of a popular warm-weather salad that I learned to make from a friend.
Unfortunately, my first pandemic attempt at making this familiar favorite was disappointing, because the kasha was extremely mushy. I had found an online bulk source and wondered if I should have toasted it in a skillet first, as I had sometimes done in the past. Or perhaps I needed to use a different proportion of water. Or a different cooking method.
So I did a little online research before my next attempt and I came up with a method that always seems to work. I also discovered that oven-toasted buckwheat has more uses than I realized. Those crunchy little kernels are almost like popcorn! They can be added to granola or used as an ice cream topping.
Rinse whole buckwheat kernels well in water and drain. Mix with a little oil (about a tablespoon per cup) and spread out in a thin layer on a parchment-lined pan with sides. Bake at 350 degrees for a half hour. Let cool.
To cook: Use a 2:1 ratio of water to buckwheat. Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot and slowly add toasted buckwheat. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Let simmer for about 15 minutes and check for doneness. When done, drain off any excess water and let the buckwheat cool uncovered. If using cold (ie, in a salad) remove to a large shallow bowl and spread out to completely cool before adding other ingredients.