FAQ: Isn’t buckwheat a form of wheat? No, it’s actually related to rhubarb and in a completely different family from wheat. (Technically, it’s a seed. Since we use it as a grain, though, I’ll call it a grain.) Buckwheat is a gluten-free, delicious savory option. It’s an excellent source of fiber, iron, protein (for a grain) and some interesting phytochemicals. Some initial limited research shows that it may have health benefits for people with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Buckwheat plays an important role in the cuisines of many cultures where growing conditions are difficult. It grows well in cold places, and on poor soil. Russia, China, Northern France, Japan, Poland, and upstate New York are a few places where it is grown. The earthy flavor can be enjoyed in different types of pancakes from around the world, toasted buckwheat groats (kasha) across Eastern Europe, noodles (soba) from Japan, and even as a jelly in Korea. If you’ve never had it, soba noodles* and kasha are readily available in large markets. Buckwheat flour or buckwheat pancake mix can be found in some stores or ordered online.

Here’s one recipe to play with– sweet rice flour is available in Asian markets. It may be possible to use all purpose flour in the place of the rice flours. Let me know if you try it!

Buckwheat Crepes
Serves 3-4

5 T buckwheat flour
4 T white rice flour
2 T sweet/glutinous rice flour
1 T sugar
2 eggs
2 T oil
1 c milk
1 t ground flax seeds
Pinch salt

Stir together the flours and sugar. Beat in the eggs, milk, and oil. Beat until almost smooth. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick griddle or crepe pan and lightly oil the surface. When hot, dip the crepe pan in the batter. Or, pour 1/4 c batter onto the pan and quickly tilt the pan to each side to spread out the batter. Cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side and remove to a plate. Repeat, stirring the batter between crepes. They are reasonably good cold as a wrap or “sandwich bread”, but better warm.

We ate ours with lentil salad and dilled cucumbers. To enjoy them via Brittany, serve wrapped around an egg, ham, and a grating of Emmentaler cheese. For a Russian flavor, try them with caviar and sour cream.

*Commercially available soba noodles typically contain actual wheat.