If you’re having trouble fitting a whole grain into your busy schedule, I have a suggestion for you: Pick up a package of Wolff’s kasha. It can be used pretty much anywhere you’d use rice, quinoa, or millet, it cooks up faster than any of them, and best of all, it’s safe for your gluten-free loved ones.
So what is kasha? Here in the U.S., it’s the term for roasted buckwheat groats (in Slavic countries, it means porridge in general). Buckwheat, which has a nutritional profile similar to wheat, is not really a true grain at all but the seed of a plant related to rhubarb. It’s one of the oldest and most traditional foods in Russia. To become kasha, the black, inedible outer hull is removed, and the buckwheat is roasted. You can buy it either whole or granulated, and though both forms cook quickly, the granulated is slightly faster-cooking, for those of us who put off preparing dinner until the last minute.
I decided to do something a little nontraditional with my medium-grain kasha and used it instead of bulgur wheat in a salad called kisir, the Turkish form of tabouli. But then I had trouble. I couldn’t find the Turkish hot pepper paste that most kisir recipes call for, so I used Sambal Oelek chili paste instead. And though I was eager to use my pomegranate molasses in the dressing, when I took it from the refrigerator door, I found it had turned into a pomegranate rock and I had to use agave nectar instead.
Despite these substitutions, this salad turned out to be one of my favorites. The kasha has a stronger flavor than bulgur or quinoa, deep, nutty, and somehow earthy, but it blended well with the aggressive flavors of the hot pepper paste, mint, and green onions. Since I like things spicy, I used two teaspoons of chili paste, but if you’re not a heat lover, try it with less. Or check out my similar International Quinoa Salad, which is milder and could always be made with kasha.
Spicy Kasha Vegetable Salad
- 1 cup buckwheat kasha , medium granulation
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 medium tomatoes , chopped fine
- 1/2 cup green onions , thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup parsley , chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh mint , chopped
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 large cucumber peeled , seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar (or pomegranate molasses) or other sweetener to taste
- 1-3 teaspoons hot pepper paste or sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon water
- Heat 2 cups of vegetable broth (or heat water and add vegetable bouillon). While you’re waiting for it to come to a boil, toast the kasha in a large, dry saucepan for about 3 minutes, or until it releases a nutty aroma. When the broth reaches a boil, add it carefully to the kasha (watch out for spatters!) Cover and turn the heat very low. Cook until kasha is tender and all liquid is absorbed, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff, and allow to cool. Kasha can be refrigerated and stored overnight, if necessary.
- Add all chopped vegetables and the chickpeas to the kasha. Mix the lemon juice and remaining ingredients well and add them to the kasha, stirring so that the dressing is distributed evenly. Serve mounded in the center of a large platter, with butternut lettuce leaves. To eat, spoon some of the salad into a lettuce leaf and eat like a taco or burrito.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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LainaMarch 2, 2010 at 10:35 pm
Susan, I'm curious as to what red chile paste you use? Thanks!
SusanVMarch 2, 2010 at 10:47 pm
Laina, I used Sambal Oleck from Huy Fong foods. I get it at the local Asian grocery.
AndrewJuly 8, 2018 at 10:05 pm
I mixed up my teaspoon and tablespoon measures and put way too much Sambal in, and it was the tastiest mistake I have ever made…
LainaMarch 3, 2010 at 12:59 am
Thanks so much. I found a source online. We don't have an Asian Market here unfortunately. But I'm thankful for the internet! 🙂
Are there other ingredients I might need for some of your recipes? If I purchase this online, I thought I might as well get a couple other ingredients while I'm at it if I may need for another recipe.
Thanks so much!
SusanVMarch 3, 2010 at 8:29 am
Laina, I don't know if you mean specifically Asian ingredients or not, but some of the ingredients I often use but people might have trouble finding are fermented black beans (Asian), dried shiitake mushrooms (Asian), dried porcini mushrooms (Italian), panch phoran (Indian), ginger paste (Indian), chipotle chile powder, New Mexico dried chiles, Ancho chile powder, Mexican oregano, nutritional yeast (health food store), and no-chicken broth or bouillon (health food store). Those ingredients seem to come up again and again, but I'm sure there are others that I'm not remembering.
LainaMarch 3, 2010 at 11:39 am
Thanks, that was very helpful! 🙂
LisaJune 29, 2010 at 8:40 pm
Ah! I was looking for a recipe with rhubarb, but you only mention it in passing here. Please Susan, what can I do with rhubarb that doesn’t involve insane amounts of sugar and fat?
P.S. Thanks for having such a great blog.
SusanVJuly 29, 2010 at 8:45 am
Lisa, I have to admit that I’ve never cooked rhubarb. It’s not grown in my area, so I don’t use it. Sorry I can’t help!
simpledaisyJuly 29, 2010 at 9:50 am
Just wanted to let you know…I just “liked” you on facebook!! I absolutely love your recipes!!!
I am always struggling to lose 10-15lbs and stumbled onto you from searching for Eat To Live recipes!! I love that book but don’t follow it as much as I should!
I am super active…right now training to ride in a 100 mile bike ride and think i’d starve if I followed the recommendations in that book too closely! But I think I might follow it more closely to see if I can shed those 10 lbs!!
Anywho….your recipes ROCK!!!
michael claytonAugust 8, 2010 at 10:11 am
One of my new favorites..have served it to many friends who also love it. Thanks Susan !
caterinaNovember 15, 2010 at 3:39 am
I bought a bottle of pomegranate molasses just to make this dish, which turned out delicious! Now I am wondering whether I should keep pomegranate molasses in the fridge or not…
SusanVNovember 15, 2010 at 7:14 am
Keep it in the fridge. Even there, if you don’t use it up within a year, it will start to dry up. You can use it in lots of recipes, so do a google search to see what you can find.
Kim BJanuary 27, 2011 at 10:32 am
Made this a little while ago, and it was delicious! I didn’t have pomegranate molasses, so I used the agave, but I didn’t want to completely scrap the pomegranate so I added pomegranate seeds. 😀 Unfortunately, the taste of the pomegranate seeds are kind of drowned out by the flavorfulness of this salad, but they do add a pretty touch and provide a bit of juicy crunch. Really enjoyed this salad, and will be trying more of your recipes!
DeniseMay 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm
I just noticed an ad for NZ Salmon pieces appear on the side of this page. I guess the ad is targeted to where I live (NZ), but thought I would let you know.
But this looks like a fantastic recipe and will have to try soon (my favourite recipe of yours is the chickpea and kale soup one)
Sally RosloffOctober 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm
I want to make a different kind of grain salad for one of the supper dishes for family coming over. I need gluten free so this fits the bill but several cannot eat hot sauce spicy. Any suggestions to substitute so it doesn’t taste bland? (I’m sorry, I know the recipe is for a spicy dish!) Maybe just a lot of white pepper?
Susan VoisinOctober 8, 2012 at 7:06 pm
Sally, white pepper is actually hotter than red pepper, so I definitely don’t recommend that! You could just try adding a little of the herbs of your choice, such as oregano and basil to increase the flavor without heat.
PhyllisApril 20, 2015 at 4:09 pm
Sounds wonderful, new to buckwheat recipes!
KarenJune 26, 2019 at 10:22 pm
It is the start of summer here in the North East so I decided to grill some pork chops and have this salad with it. I had Kasha in my pantry for some while not knowing what to make with it. Then I found this recipe and had all the ingredients. I have to work on the cooking time a bit but it was delicious. I did add some sliced almonds and feta cheese. Used mint and parsley from my garden and some chia. The only thing I wished I added more of was the hot sauce. It didn’t have much of a kick but that is an easy fix. Thanks so much.