Monday, 28 February 2011

Moosewood Mondays: Kasha Pilaf

Forget chicken and rice, just for this week. Let's give rice the week off and try a few new grain options, like kasha. No, not Kashi. That's breakfast cereal. Kasha is roasted buckwheat groats and has an earthy, nutty flavour that you won't find in your regular rice offerings. Kasha also has the wonderful trait of being quite quick to cook up, in case you are pressed for time.

This week we made a delicious kasha pilaf from the Moosewood Collective to go with our roast chicken, instead of regular old rice or spuds. The pilaf gave the meal a unique and exotic flair while adding fibre and nutritional content.

From Vitalife:
Kasha Nutritional Information

Kasha is a porridge commonly eaten in Eastern Europe. In English, kasha generally refers to buckwheat groats, but in Slavic countries, kasha refers to porridge in general, and can be made from any cereal, especially buckwheat, wheat, barley, oats, and rye. It is one of the oldest known dishes in the Slavic cuisines of the Eastern European cuisine, at least a thousand years old. The kasha used in the Aztec Power Food cereals is made from buckwheat groats.

Kasha may look and taste like a grain or cereal, but it's actually derived from the seeds of buckwheat, a fruit that belongs to the same family as rhubarb and sorrel. Because it is not a grain it is gluten free, making it suitable for people with gluten intolerance or allergies.

Buckwheat is cholestral free and it is almost fat free. Buckwheat tends to lower blood glucose.

Kasha is closer to being a complete protein than other plant sources, including soybeans. It contains all eight essential amino acids in good proportion. In particular, kasha contains significant amounts of the amino acid lysine, which makes it unique as a grain substitute. Lysine is typically lacking in most true grains.

Buckwheat is high in iron so traditionally, it's used by pregnant women to fight the pregnancy anemia.

Kasha is full of B vitamins and is rich in phosphorous, potassium, iron and calcium. One cup of buckwheat kasha kernels contains more than 20% of the recommended daily intake of fibre.

1 cup of cooked kasha provides approximately 155 calories, 5.7 grams protein, 4.5 grams fibre, 1 gram of fat, 1.3 mg iron, no cholesterol and negligible sodium. A 3/4-cup serving provides about 15% of the adult daily requirement for fiber. 
Chicken was rubbed with Chinese 5-spice, orange zest, kosher salt, black pepper and olive oil before roasting
Kasha Pilaf
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

  •     1¼ cup chopped onions
  •     1 cup diced celery
  •     4 cloves garlic; minced
  •     1 tb canola oil
  •     1 cup kasha; (roasted buckwheat)
  •     1 1/3 cup water
  •     1 cup carrots; peeled and diced
  •     2 cup sliced mushrooms
  •     1/4 cup dry red wine
  •     2 tbsp soy sauce
  •     2 tsp dill weed or 2 Tbsp fresh dill
  •     Ground black pepper
  •     Dill or parsley for garnish
  •     Fresh tomato wedges for garnish, optional

In a large skillet, saute the onions, celery, and garlic in the oil for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the kasha and saute for another minute to lightly toast it. Pour in the water, add the carrots, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, red wine, soy, and dill. Cover and cook on low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the kasha and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add pepper to taste. Serve garnished with dill or parsley sprigs and tomato wedges. Serve hot as side dish, main dish, or as stuffing for tomatoes, bell peppers, or winter squash.