Comfort food: Herby buckwheat with roots and 'shrooms, topped with a poached egg

There are some dishes you just crave. Mine: Buckwheat with sautéed roots and a poached egg. It's a go-to meal for any time of day, especially during the fall and winter months when root crops are abundant. It was my preferred breakfast of choice before a full day of working on the farm. It's satisfying, comforting, healthful and budget-friendly. All of these vegetables are in season and available at winter farmers' markets in your area (often for less money than at the grocery store!). If you're unfamiliar with buckwheat and have only had it in granola or mushy porridge form, you might dismiss this one but don't! In this recipe, buckwheat - a naturally gluten-free grain (actually, a fruit seed!) - is savory and enhances the flavor of the pan-steamed and -sautéed roots and 'shrooms. This recipe is adapted from Cythnia Lair's wonderful Feeding the Whole Family, and it's one to bookmark for sure. It calls for kasha, which is roasted or toasted buckwheat groats, but plain buckwheat groats work too!

Herby buckwheat with roots, 'shrooms and a poached egg


Breakfast of champions! (A.Gross, 2014)

Breakfast of champions! (A.Gross, 2014)

  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled chopped and diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, peeled, chopped and diced
  • 1 large potato, peeled (optional), chopped and cubed
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, cut and chopped
  • 1 cup buckwheat or kasha
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tbl of dried tarragon
  • 1 Tbl of dried rosemary
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the coconut oil. Add onions, celery, carrots, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes; saute until the onion is soft.
  2. Have your water boiled or ready to boil. Add potatoes, mushrooms, tarragon and rosemary to the pan; saute 2-3 minutes. Add buckwheat to the mixture and stir. Pour in boiling water. Turn heat to low. Cover pot and let steep 15 minutes, until all water is absorbed.
  3. Fluff up and season to taste.

Now, poached egg time. They sound intimidating, but they aren't. This recipe by Alton Brown is the easiest, least threatening that I can find...even though eggs are the least threatening ingredient possible! IF you can't wrap your brain around egg poaching, simply top the buckwheat mixture with a fried egg. Still delicious and satisfying!

Notes and tips:

  • Save your scraps! When you peel your veggies, save them to make stock. If you prepare your veggies in advance, make the stock and replace the 2 cups of water called for in the buckwheat recipe with your homemade stock. You can also save the stock for later use.
  • Switch up your roots! There are so, so many root crops that would be delicious in this recipe: parsnips, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, beets, turnips, salsify, celery root. Go to your local farmers' market or the produce department at the grocery store and experiment. Remember: Some roots take a little longer than others to cook, especially when you are preparing them on the stovetop. Take this into consideration when you are adapting the buckwheat recipe.
Glorious roots! (Photo taken at the Westport Farmers' Market, November 2013, A.Gross)

Glorious roots! (Photo taken at the Westport Farmers' Market, November 2013, A.Gross)

Recipe: Sea Salted Mocha Chocolate Bark

'Tis the season for many non-local confections, but many of them can be created using ethically sourced ingredients. My favorite, go-to recipe: chocolate bark! This is my latest concoction - sea salted mocha chocolate bark - made with Simply Smiles Casa Blend coffee!

A little bit about Simply Smiles coffee:

Your purchase helps farmers and their families through our ethical purchasing practices (Simply Smiles Coffees are a blend of certified Fair Trade, Organic, and Rainforest Alliance beans) and our profits support the programs of Simply Smiles - a charity dedicated to providing bright futures for impoverished children.

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I do love cooking and baking with it. In this recipe, coffee intensifies the chocolate favor. The end result is a tasty, festive and thoughtful gift!

Sea Salted Mocha Chocolate Bark

Ingredients: * 16 oz. fair trade/organic dark chocolate (70% or more), chopped or 16 oz. of semisweet and/or bittersweet chocolate * 1.5 Tbl. of ground coffee beans (I used Simply Smiles Casa Blend) * pinch of sea salt * 1/8 c. whole coffee beans (optional)

  1. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

  2. In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or pop in the microwave in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is melted but not burned. (It can happen quickly, so watch it!)

  3. When the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat and fold/stir in the coffee grounds. Pour the chocolate onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. With a spatula, work quickly to spread the chocolate evenly on the sheet before the chocolate sets.

  4. Sprinkle the sea salt and coffee beans, if using. Press in if needed and allow the bark to set for 30 minutes in the refrigerator or a cool place.

  5. When ready (when the chocolate is not tacky to the touch), break apart with a knife or your hands and serve.

Notes/suggestions: - I used regular coffee, but decaf is a suitable substitute. - You can always use milk chocolate. - Add more ground coffee beans if desired. - For an edible gift, place bark in a glass jar, tin or decorative plate...perhaps with a bag of Simply Smiles coffee!

Sea Salted Mocha Chocolate Bark

Sea Salted Mocha Chocolate Bark