Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat but is actually the small edible fruit seed of a gluten-free plant in the same family as rhubarb. The whole seeds, known as groats, are sold unroasted and roasted, a step that turns them dark and gives them a much richer, earthier flavor. Unroasted buckwheat groats are mild and rather plain tasting. Roasted buckwheat groats are sometimes referred to as "kasha" -- a confusing term since in Russia "kasha" refers to various cooked grain dishes. Either way, buckwheat groats (roasted and unroasted) are quick-cooking and have a tendency to become mushy when cooked.
Many recipes suggest adding egg white or a beaten egg to the groats before cooking to prevent them from clumping together. Cooked buckwheat groats are good combined with pasta, sauteed vegetables and used as stuffing. The cooking times for roasted and unroasted are the same. Buckwheat groats are also easy to grind into flour-- the base for classic crepes from Brittany and traditional soba noodles.
Makes about 2 cups