There are plenty of food items, when given a second chance (ok, and sometimes a third or fourth) will reveal much more to your palate than they did on the initial try. Every time I hear of someone disliking a specific food, I ask them how many times they’ve eaten it, how it was prepared or where they had it or any number of questions to determine what they don’t like about it. I always want to know the whys and hows and whats of someone’s intense aversion to a certain food.
When I first met Mike, he told me he did not like salmon. Not one bit. When pressed for more information, he revealed that when he’d eaten it, it was tough in texture (definitely overcooked) and tasted fishy (definitely not very fresh) and so I made him a salmon dinner one night of a terrific piece of fresh salmon that was perfectly cooked. I hooked him for life, pun intended. A poorly prepared food item can be a real turn off. For the longest time as a kid, I absolutely hated pork due to it being overcooked and tough as nails. Once I tasted the beauty of perfectly cooked pork, tender and succulent, I was reformed.
A lot of times, if it isn’t the way it’s cooked then it’s the texture. This was true of my tastes for a very long time. And almost all of the foods that I once disliked as a child, and even in to adulthood have now made themselves a permanent space in my life. Foods such as tomato, onion, squash of all kinds, eggplant, mushrooms…. this list is all about texture. And my initial introduction to Buckwheat groats, also known as Kasha, turned me off due to the texture as well. But the second glance, with a better cooking method in hand and some quick innovation in the kitchen, I turned this healthy grain into a mind-blowing salad that I can’t wait to make again.
As a singular food item, I’m still not enthralled with kasha, but I think that alone, this grain is pretty uninspiring. That all changes when mixed together with others, kind of like that quiet and unassuming person who comes alive in the right crowd. Kasha grains are tiny, heart-shaped and solid, similar to barley grains, with a sweet, nutty flavor and a nice chewy texture. Buckwheat groats are a potent nutritional item, with no cholesterol, sodium or saturated fat. It’s high in fiber and magnesium, with a low glycemic index. Mixed with shredded kale, dressed lightly in a simple oil & vinegar dressing and dusted with sea salt and cracked pepper, the grains added a perfect complement to kale’s crunchy personality. Chunks of tofu, seared crisp after a curry bath marinade, made for eye-catching color and a protein boost.
I was a little concerned that this salad would be a bit light, lacking the substance needed to fuel a body’s needs through the day, or evening, but after consuming a small plate of it, I was surprisingly full, and that satiation lasted until bedtime, and beyond. A small portion for lunch the next day easily carried me through the remainder of work too.
And speaking of second chances……
This delightful 4-cup Bodum Assam Teapot needs a new home. Do you love tea? I drink a lot of tea, and have a somewhat shocking collection of it in a cupboard. I also have a smaller Bodum Teapot that doesn’t get used as much as I would like. So this one could be yours, all for the sake of a comment. Tell me what kind of tea you like to drink, hot or cold or whatever, and you’ll have a chance. I will pick one name on Sunday May 13th.
And now, how about that recipe??
Kasha with Kale and Curried Tofu
1 pkg extra firm tofu, drained and cut in to cubes
2 T. curry powder
1/4 c. olive oil
1 c. raw buckwheat groats (available at co-ops)
2 c. water
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 pkg Cut N Clean Greens Rainbow Kale Salad (with or without the dressing- which can be used in lieu of a vinaigrette)
About a half cup of your favorite vinaigrette recipe, or similar bottled version
Crushed peanuts, optional (but a delicious and crunchy addition)
In a small skillet, begin toasting the buckwheat groats over medium-low heat. Have the water ready in a separate lidded pan. As the buckwheat begins to heat up and you start to smell a nice nutty scent, start the water heating. Continue toasting the buckwheat, shaking the pan to avoid scorching, while the water heats up. When the water begins boiling, carefully start shaking the toasted groats in to the water. They will sizzle and the water will steam up as you add the groats, so don’t dump them all at once, just a small amount at a time. Once they are all in the boiling water, reduce the heat to a bare simmer, cover the pan and cook the groats for about 15 minutes. The water should be completely absorbed and the top of the groats will look dry. Shut off the heat and allow the pan to sit for 10 minutes, then fluff the grain carefully.
In a small measuring cup, whisk the curry powder and olive oil together. Pour over cubed tofu and toss to coat. The tofu will soak up all the marinade. Allow to soak for about a half hour. (this is a good time to cook those groats) Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Sear the tofu to your desired browning. Place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil, and set aside.
Place rainbow kale in a large bowl and drizzle some of the vinaigrette over it. How much depends on your taste. I like a lightly dressed salad, but you may like a bit more. Add in the groats, about a cup at a time as you may not want all of it in the salad. Toss, taste, season and add more groats until you have a nice balance of kale and grain. Taste, add more vinaigrette or salt and pepper if needed, then gently add in the tofu and crushed peanuts, if using.
The salad can be eaten at room temperature, and the flavor deepens overnight in the fridge. Taste the next day to see if it needs more vinaigrette, salt or pepper. The kale and grains will absorb that overnight.