Kasha, or buckwheat groats, with mushrooms and sliced scallions. Photo by Ann Fisher

For most people, the smell of cooking kasha means nothing. As a part Pole and Ukrainian, it’s the scent of my childhood. I can see my Nonnie stirring the kernels and my dad reaching out to give me a Mason jar full. My kids love it, too, and gobble it up when offered.

Deceptively easy to make, kasha, or buckwheat groats to non-Slavs and those who are not of Jewish heredity, is a staple grain that’s lauded for being one of the most nutritious to consume. It has a nutty, mild flavor and is super-versatile. Add veggies and meat to ramp up the goodness. Poles are particularly fond of mushrooms, and forage for them frequently. Mushrooms add a nice umami flavor to kasha.

You can find kasha in some grain aisles at local supermarkets but will have better luck at health food stores, where it’s organic and offered in bulk. Wolff’s is the only brand I’ve found in the U.S., but don’t follow its recipe, as it comes out mushy.

I like my kasha plain – well, with plenty of real butter and salt, that is. It makes a great cereal-like breakfast, and is good on a salad or a side dish at dinner. This family recipe is from the back of the box by a long-defunct company.

Smacznego! (Enjoy your food!)



Serves about 4 as a side dish 

Stir 1 slightly beaten egg into 1 cup buckwheat groats. Place the mixture into a cast iron frying pan on a high flame and stir constantly. When each grain is dry and separate, add 2 cups of actively boiling water, or broth, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover tightly and reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

“MMMM!,” the writer of the old recipe says. “What a delicious side dish instead of potatoes, rice, or pasta! Much more nutritious.”

Ann Fisher poses with a bowl of kasha. She inherited the bowl from her grandmother, who often cooked kasha when Fisher was a girl. Photo courtesy of Ann Fisher


“I’m a true country cook, now living in Saco, who helped instill the love of food in my two sons, who far outshine me in the kitchen and both now cook for me! One is the sous chef of the Ecology School in Saco, and the other is a forager extraordinaire of mushrooms and other wild edibles.”

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