There’s a strange poetry to flat rate boxes, a mathematics of love via the US Postal Service. For years, my mom has sent me flat rate boxes of food. Rather, I’ve always had a horrible habit of leaving my belongings like a trail of breadcrumbs wherever I go and my mom is great about making sure I get them back.
It starts with a favorite pair of boots forgotten at home, but the beautiful thing about a flat rate box is the potential. Not since a childhood refrigerator box has cardboard seemed so boundless. Somehow, everything fits: the three cans of Rosarita refried beans, the Reese’s, the inexplicable pair of Valentine’s Day napkins, and (hey, it’s flat rate after all) the five pound Costco bag of quinoa.
Maybe you’re not also working your way through 10 pounds of quinoa, but are looking for a new whole grain in your life. Allow me to introduce you to buckwheat. The first time I cooked buckwheat, it went straight in the trash. It was a brown mushy mess. I had no plans to ever make or eat it again, but now we have it at least once a week. I learned that the way you cook buckwheat makes all the difference, so I’m here to tell you how to end up with a nutty, toothsome, and super-versatile thing instead of the alternative.
- Go whole: Buckwheat is sold in different “granulations,” which just means it’s ground up in varying degrees of fineness. Look for “whole granulation,” which is not ground up at all.
- Make it a staple: My regular old neighborhood grocery store carries it.
- Weeknight potential: It cooks very quickly, without much heat, but it’s also great cold. Cook a bunch and have it on hand.
- Toast it: This improves the texture and deepens the flavor. Toasting is totally necessary.
- Rhubarb: It’s related to rhubarb (!), not wheat, so it’s a great gluten-free stand-in for things like barley, farro, and wheat berries.
How to Cook Buckwheat
Yield: enough for 2 as a main, easily doubled.
- 1/2 cup whole buckwheat
- 1 cup water
- 1 pinch salt
- Place the water and salt in a small stainless pot, but do not turn the water on just yet.
- In a bare stainless skillet, toast the buckwheat over med-high heat until some grains begin to darken and you smell a nutty, popcorn aroma.
- About one minute into toasting the buckwheat, begin heating the water on high. This little delay will help your buckwheat and water be ready closer to the same time.
- When the water boils and the buckwheat is toasted, remove the buckwheat from the heat and reduce the water to low heat.
- Slowly add the buckwheat to the water, being careful because it will boil up. Cover the pot and cook on low for 10 minutes, or until no water remains.
Now eat it! Get inspired:
- Use it instead of farro in this Crunchy Kale Bowl from Joy the Baker.
- Or swap out the wheat berries and try buckwheat in this Whiskey & Wheat Berry salad recipe from 101 cookbooks.
- This Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad from Simply Recipes could easily be made by using buckwheat instead of barley.
- I think buckwheat’s deep, nutty flavor pairs great with the bright, green stuff that’s coming in the market now. I love tossing it with some sauteed asparagus, dill, and preserved lemons.