The Edgy Veggie

Buckwheat and Kamut® go with the (whole) grain

Buckwheat tea cake.
Buckwheat tea cake.

It’s Whole Grains Sampling Day, so join the Whole Grains Council’s festivities. All whole grains offer vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein galore, but consider sampling two that are oft-neglected — buckwheat and Kamut®.

These two ancient grains are sold in bulk at Whole Foods. They’re also packaged whole and milled as flour through Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills. Even better, they’re not the gravelly or gluey grains of earnestness that first hit the market. Now they’re in products we actually want to eat, from waffles to pasta.

Buckwheat, despite its name, is wheatless and gluten-free. You may know it as kasha or buckwheat groats (terrible names). Bob’s Red Mill’s Creamy Organic Buckwheat (18 ounces, $6.99) shows buckwheat’s softer side. This hot cereal earns its name with a velvety consistency and a nutty flavor welcoming all manner of fruits and nuts. One serving provides 140 calories, no fat or sodium, 1 fiber gram and 3 protein grams. Like regular (not instant) oatmeal, it cooks in 15 to 20 minutes.

For faster buckwheat delivery, Nature’s Path buckwheat waffles (7.4 ounces, $3.39) in the freezer section toast in minutes. They’re crispy, organic, gluten-free and vegan but don’t brim with buckwheat. It’s listed behind water, brown rice flour and half a dozen other ingredients. Two waffles contain 190 calories, 7 fat grams, 330 milligrams sodium, 1 fiber gram and 2 protein grams.

Kamut®, an ancient wheat variety with a modern trademarked name, has 10 protein grams per serving and looks like rice on performance enhancing drugs. That it takes almost an hour to cook is a buzzkill. Ready-to-eat Kamut® is the primary ingredient in Arrowhead Mills Organic Kamut® Flakes (12 ounces, $5.99), and it’s abetted by other whole grains including amaranth and quinoa. One serving contains 120 calories, 1 fat gram, a mere 70 milligrams sodium, 2 fiber grams and 4 protein grams.

Eat Kamut® quickly, lusciously and organically with Monograno Felicetti Kamut® chiocciole (17 ounces, $9.99). Huh? It’s pasta. Pricier than supermarket brands, yes, but these elegant tubes are amazingly silky, cook up just as quickly and may be the best dried pasta I’ve tried this side of Italy. One serving contains 190 calories, 1 fat gram, 2 sodium grams, 2 fiber grams and 8 impressive protein grams. Stocked at gourmet markets including Epicure on South Beach, Coral Gables’ La Bottega la Dolce Vita and Pinecrest’s Anacapri market.

Ellen Kanner is the author of “Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner.”

Buckwheat and Almond Tea Cake

Buckwheat loves many of the same flavors we do — nuts, apples and maple. They all come together in this tea cake/quick bread. It tastes tantalizingly of caramel but provides a gluten-free high-energy breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up. It’s a cake to celebrate Whole Grains Sampling Day.

Buckwheat flour and evaporated cane sugar (minimally processed sugar) are available at in the baking section at Whole Foods and many supermarkets.

1 cup buckwheat flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup blanched almonds,* toasted and ground

1/3 cup grapeseed, sunflower or other neutral oil

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup evaporated cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 teapsoons powdered sugar for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-inch cake pan. In a large bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Pour in the ground almonds, Stir well to combine. In a separate bowl, gently whisk together grapeseed or other neutral oil, apple sauce, maple syrup, evaporated cane sugar and almond extract. Pour the apple sauce mixture into the buckwheat and ground almonds. Fold them together with a light hand until flour is entirely incorporated and mixture forms a batter. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Cake should be sweet-smelling, rich cinnamon brown and spring back when prodded gently with a forefinger. Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings.

*To blanch almonds, pour whole raw almonds into a small heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 15 minutes. Drain. Rub the almonds between your fingers. Their skins will slip off off, leaving you perfect, bare nut kernels.