Though treated in the same way as grain, buckwheat is actually a seed and is very popular amongst Eastern European countries. Blini pancakes are traditionally made with buckwheat flour whilst the kernels, known as groats, are versatile in either a hot or cold dishes. They can be steamed and mixed with parsley, onions, mushrooms and olive oil or used in a similar way to rice, bulgar or quinoa. Buckwheat has a nutty, earthy, slight bitter taste; some may argue that it is an acquired taste but, once hooked you won’t look back which good news for healthy eating as unlike grains, buckwheat ranks low on the glycemic index scale thus offering the comfort of carbs without inducing a spike in blood sugar levels.


Kasha is the chestnut brown, toasted groat and is easily obtainable from Eastern European delis, health food stores or online; my bagful was scooped directly from an open sack in Heratchian Freres. I bought a chunk of delicious, salty, crumbly Feta during the same visit and this will give the perfect balance against the nutty-chewiness of the buckwheat.

In the vein of Martha Stewart I try to be organised and occasionally do come up trumps and prepare a stash of ‘ready-mades’ to have in the fridge – easy accompaniments for supper, packed lunches and so forth, so it is a natural choice for me to prepare the buckwheat as a salad.

Begin by preparing the kasha with double the volume of liquid to ‘grain’ – i.e. ½ cup of groats to 1 cup of either water or stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes, taking care that the pan doesn’t boil dry; add a little at a time if more liquid is require, the finished result should still have ‘bite’. Set aside and allow to cool. Use in a similar way to preparing tabouleh by adding diced vegetables with finely chopped herbs. Alternatively, fold through hot or cold roasted vegetables such as courgette, aubergine and red peppers both dressed with a simple lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette; you are limited only by imagination and the contents of your vegetable basket.

To the cooked buckwheat I added snipped chives, diced (seeded) cucumber, juicy sweet pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta then finishing with black pepper (the feta provides sufficient salt), and a sprinkle of fennel dust which I prepare myself by roasting then grinding fennel seeds.