Kasha is a sort of porridge made from toasted buckwheat groats – that is, the hulled kernels of buckwheat, a grainlike seed unrelated to wheat and gluten-free. Kasha is a popular food in Russia and Poland and was brought to the United States by Jewish immigrants from those countries in the early years of the twentieth century. Kasha is richly aromatic with a distinctive, nutty taste. It cooks quickly and makes an unusual and nutritious whole-grain preparation that seems most suited to fall and winter meals. Dried and reconstituted shiitake mushrooms and their soaking liquid greatly enhance the flavor of the dish.
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Rinse the mushrooms in cold water, place them in a bowl with 1 cup of warm water, and soak until the mushroom caps are soft. (Alternatively, you can place the mushrooms in a bowl with the water and microwave for 1 minute.) Drain and save the soaking water. Discard the tough stems and slice the caps ¼ inch thick. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté for two minutes. Add the kasha and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the sliced mushrooms, salt, black pepper, 1 cup of the reserved mushroom liquid, and 1 cup of water or broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Fluff the mixture with a fork. Taste and adjust with salt or pepper, if necessary. Garnish with parsley and serve.