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Co-op Inspired Cooking – Butternut Compote with Buckwheat for Breakfast December 1st, 2017

by Jill Maldonado

I’ve been curious about buckwheat for awhile now. I’d heard it was a nutritional powerhouse, but I always thought I couldn’t eat it because it was wheat (I’m gluten-intolerant). Come to find out, it’s not wheat at all (am I the ONLY one who didn’t know that?)! It’s not even a grain! It’s often classified as a grain by the culinary world, but it reality, it’s a SEED. In case this is news to you too, let me introduce you to buckwheat…

Buckwheat’s amino acid profile is very close to that of animal protein, making it one of the highest quality sources of protein in the plant world. It’s rich in iron, vitamin B6 and dietary fiber. A cup of buckwheat supplies 98 percent of the daily requirement for magnesium and delivers a whopping 23 grams of protein. In my gluten-free home where I’m also trying to keep a vegan teenager healthy, buckwheat is like a dream come true.

All THAT. AND. It’s affordable! Win. Win. Win.

For my first foray into cooking with buckwheat, I chose to go with a breakfast dish. Since the weather’s gotten cold and I’m a sucker for a warm hearty bowl of grains on a cold morning, it seemed like a good place to start. I’m also a huge fan of a more-savory-than sweet-breakfast, so I was immediately drawn to this recipe I found for Morning Barley with Squash, Date & Lemon Compote. Doesn’t that sound yummy?! I figured it’d be a pretty straight forward switch from barley to buckwheat, so I went shopping…

All of these lovely ingredients are available at the Co-op in either the produce or the bulk departments. (Hooray for bringing home minimal packaging with my groceries!)

Look at all of those amazing colors!  That beautiful butternut squash just so happens to be rich in potassium, vitamin A and fiber and dates contain iron & calcium (along with a whole host of other good-for-your-bones minerals).

Buckewheat with butternut squash compote

Making the compote was fairly straightforward. First, I peeled, seeded and cut a butternut squash into (roughly) half-inch pieces. You’re looking to end up with about 4 cups of squash.

Then, I diced up eight dates.

 

I threw the squash, dates, a cup of golden raisins, a cinnamon stick and six whole cloves into a big pot.

 

Then I added 1 cup of water and  1/4 cup of lemon juice (PRO TIP: You’re going to need to zest that lemon, so do THAT before you juice it.)

I brought that all up to a boil and then pulled it back to a simmer and cooked it (covered) for about 9 minutes. Then I removed the lid and cooked for about 9 minutes more. I found that my liquid boiled away before my squash was tender (squashes can vary in their water content), so I tossed in extra water 1/4 cup at a time, until my squash was tender and there wasn’t much liquid left in the pot.

After I pulled the pot off the heat I tossed in the lemon zest.

Stirring the zest into the warm compote released the lemon’s essential oils–it smelled heavenly.


Then I set aside the compote and turned my attention to the buckwheat. I’d researched several different ways to cook the buckwheat (actually, I bought TOASTED buckwheat which is better known as kasha. I went with toasted, because I was looking for that nutty flavor. You can purchase UN-toasted buckwheat groats and toast them up yourself, or NOT depending on your preference.) I’d read that you could just soak kasha overnight and skip the cooking altogether, but I went with a process that felt more familiar and decided to cook it on the stovetop.


From what I read, it seemed like a 1-to-3 ratio of kasha-to-liquid was the way to go. Because this was going to be a breakfast dish, I decided to make one of my three cups of liquid almond milk, anticipating a creamier outcome. I simmered all that for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye that there was enough liquid in the pot. My kasha turned out REALLY mushy, so definitely DON’T USE THREE CUPS OF LIQUID!

I later received the advice to use a 1-to-2 kasha-to-liquid ratio and cook it for only 10 minutes. If you get the right toothiness to your kasha and there’s still liquid in the pot, just pour it off! That’s definitely what I’ll try next and then also, I want to give the overnight soak method a try too.

Even though my kasha turned out mushier than I expected it to be, I figured it was less mushy than oatmeal, so I kept to my breakfast cereal plan.

To put the whole thing together, I scooped some kasha into a bowl, topped with the compote, poured over a little almond milk and sprinkled on some pepitas (hello anti-oxidants and omegas!).


With my skeptical family looking on, I took my first bite. It was SUPER sweet! Really, TOO sweet for me. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed…

but trooper that I am, I broke out the mason jars and packed myself a week’s worth of breakfasts from the remainder of what I’d cooked. I’m not sure if I’m more prideful or frugal, but I wasn’t going to let good, healthy food go to waste.

I’m so glad I didn’t! The next morning when I sat down to my mason jar breakfast, I was delighted to find that the whole compote had “mellowed”. The earthiness of the squash wasn’t lost to the sweetness of the dried fruit (although, I’ll use fewer raisins next time) and the brightness of the lemon zest woke up the whole dish! I’m writing this after finishing an entire week’s worth of pre-packed mason jars and I’m happy to report that I’ll definitely make this dish again. The protein and fiber was satisfying and kept me going all morning long, all week long AND it was yummy.

Next time around, I’m going to cook my kasha for less time with less liquid and see if I can improve the texture (I DO love the nutty flavor of the toasted buckwheat groats!) AND I’ll use maybe 1/2 cup of raisins instead of 1 cup, but that’s just me. I don’t love a sweet breakfast. If you do, use the full cup!

I hope you enjoyed coming along on my buckwheat journey and I hope you give this unsung superfood a place in your pantry! If you try THIS recipe or any other buckwheat recipes you want to share, send me an email and tell me all about (extra credit for pictures)!

Until next time, stay adventurous and keep your cooking inspired!