Tag Archives: kasha

Start Fresh: New Year’s and January Menus

Hoppin' John, a traditional Southern dish served on New Year's Day.

Hoppin’ John, a traditional Southern dish served on New Year’s Day. Photo from Lanascooking.com. See her recipe/instructions.

Of course, being a fan of Black-eyed Peas the legume (not the band), I’m dishing up Hoppin’ John for New Year’s. This will be a vegan version of the ‘john’ traditionally served throughout the American South. It’s good luck to eat BEP on the first day of the New Year, therefore any kind of BEP is a MUST on New Year’s tables, from BEP salsa, “Texas caviar” or whatever. I’ll be making chef Bryant Terry’s take, from his fab book “Vegan Soul Kitchen” (his first book is The Inspired Vegan).

It’s also de rigueur to serve greens with BEP on New Year’s — and for me, on any day. [Search previous posts on Beans & Greens.] Instead of my favorite standard Sauteed Collards with Red Peppers & Raisins, I’ve decided to do a Lacinato Kale & Pomegranate Salad, a very simple dish from SuperFood Kitchen” by Julie Morris. Why? Simply because I was able to order a lot of organic Lacinato Kale and pomegranates and want to take advantage of the texture of fresh Lacinato. I’ll serve the collards another day, very soon.

These two cookbooks provide inspiration for my upcoming winter menus, along with “Appetite for Reduction” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (The Post-punk Kitchen, Veganomicon) and Everyday Paleo Family”by Sarah Fragoso (Everyday Paleo book and blog).

 Lots and lots of wonderful dishes and beautiful photos. For instance, from Amazon.com blurb on Vegan Soul Kitchen: “Reinterpreting popular dishes from African and Caribbean countries as well as his favorite childhood dishes, Terry reinvents African-American and Southern cuisine—capitalizing on the complex flavors of the tradition…”.

So without further ado, here are Delivered Dish of the Week (DDoW) menus for the next several weeks.

DEC 31:
1) Hoppin’ John (vegan, GF, soy-free)
2) Lacinato Kale & Pomegranate Salad 
(vegan, GF, soy-free)

1) Super Green Split Pea Soup 
(vegan, GF, soy-free). Includes collards and a secret ingredient, nori, which lends a savoriness that replaces traditional ham hock.

2) Roast Celeriac, Beets and Cabbage Salad w/ Borscht Dressing (vegan, GF; dressing contains tofu). Let me know if you wish a soy-free dressing.

Gado-gado salad with peanut dressing (photo from http://www.minaina.com)

Gado-gado salad with peanut dressing (photo from http://www.minaina.com)

JAN 14:
1) Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) with or without tofu. 
(vegan, GF)
2) Gado Gado. Indonesian steamed vegetable salad with peanut dressing (vegan, GF, soy-free)

JAN 21:
1) Millet with Roast Rutabaga & Sweet Potatoes (vegan, GF, soy-free). Tinged with cinnamon so you can eat it for breakfast or whatever. And you should cuz it will fuel you for the day.
2) Chipotle Red Beans (vegan, GF, soy-free). Thick and hearty.

JAN 28:
1) Basil Quinoa w/ Sun-dried Tomatoes & Spinach (vegan, GF, soy-free)
2) Puttanesca Portabello & Lentils (vegan, GF, soy-free)

FEB 4:
1) Coconut Red Lentil Soup w/ Cardamom (vegan, GF, soy-free)
2) Cumin Kasha w/ Cabbage and Spiced Walnuts (vegan, GF, soy-free). Kasha is another name for Buckwheat Groats (berries). One of my favorite GF grain dishes.

FEB 11 (Chinese New Year):
1) Sesame Eggplant & Rice (vegan, GF, soy-free)
2) Spicy Broccoli & Edamame Salad (vegan, GF, contains soy)


You order, I deliver. I’ll be posting links to the online forms in the next couple days. See DDoW page. Btw, you can freeze all these dishes to “bank” up meals for later.


Down the Rabbit Hole

It is so easy to slip down the Rabbit Hole into the dizzying Wonderland of Starch.

That goofy Alice with her yo-yo weight issues. First, it’s the quick-fix “Drink Me Potion” aka liquid diet food substitutes. She drops pounds immediately but doesn’t have strength or energy to even turn the doorknob. Now Alice is hungry and feeling deprived and, in a typical rebound, scarfs a box of “Eat Me Cakes” (not likely the whole-wheat applesauce kind). She bloats and balloons to giant size and again, can’t get out of the house. She gets head-aches.

This woman needs to get herself to a meeting of Cake-eaters Anonymous.

Moreover, what does the schizo Mad Hatter serve at tea? Pastries & cake. “Off with their heads!”, orders Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts, another unstable personality. What did infamously unsympathetic queen Marie Antoinette say about her starving French masses? “Let them eat cake.”

Crabby, confused, hyper-sensitive, prone to over-emotional fits and angry flare-ups. Obviously, these poor people are in the throes of processed flour & sugar addictions!

[Oh, I hear you, sister. And the dang holidays are approaching!]

So, what to do? Learn to love chewy, satisfying, low-glycemic whole grains. Go beyond brown rice. I’m talking about wheat berries, oat berries, barley; and on the gluten-free side, quinoa, millet and buckwheat groats aka “Kasha”, and different red and red-brown combo rice.

Autumn is the perfect season for cassoulets & stews with different kinds of whole-grain pilafs. And now the heretical: Refrain from serving bread on the side. I know, it’s so nice to mop up sauce with crusty bread, I get it. I’m not saying never eat it.

Case in point: I have a client who wants to better control her carb intake. Cake is not her “eat me” temptation, it’s pasta and bread. In a recent coaching session, we discussed “scaffolding down” from these processed carbs, and substituting whole grain pilafs and salads. She’s never cooked grains, so, in our next cooking lesson, we’re going to make 3-4 kinds for her to try. I’m bringing my pressure cooker.

Once she learns the basic method of boil & simmer — it’s the same for all of them — she can start using these instead of white rice and pasta. These pack more nutrients per serving and make you feel more full. Plus, then you’ll have cooked whole grains on hand for other wholesome dishes.

Wheat-berries with Lentils & Collard Greens. Grains took only 15 min in pressure cooker (my photo).

 For instance, Google “wheat berries” and up pops up several nice salads and soups right away. Go to www.vegetariantimes.com’s huge database for more inspiration.

If you love bread, try to save it for sandwiches, where it has a noble and practical purpose.

And then, we’ll treat ourselves to cake.

More April Menus

Here are the menus for next 2 weeks’ Delivered Dish of the Week.
April 15 – 21

1) Gingery Lentil & Carrot Stew. Vegan and gluten-free. A vegetarian staple, to which I will add “ajwain”, an interesting Indian spice that smells like thyme. See previous blog posting “Trying New Spices”.
2) Cumin-scented Kasha Pilaf with Cabbage & Spiced Walnuts.  Vegan and gluten-free. Kasha aka Buckwheat Groats, the whole grain of buckwheat, is NOT related to wheat. It’s an earthy nutty grain with a texture similar to soft brown rice. I discovered it is excellent in a highly spiced Indian-style pilaf with cayenne-dusted walnuts. One particular client who has gluten and other intolerance loves this dish and orders 3 quarts at a time! 

1) Kamut & Veggie Salad in Orange Mint Vinaigrette. Vegan; does contain small amount of gluten. Kamut, like spelt, is an ancient, un-hybridized grain related to wheat. Like spelt, it contains less gluten than wheat. Kamut is wonderfully chewy and therefore terrific in salads. 
2) Simple White Bean Soup with Tarragon. Vegan and Gluten-free. A soupy stew or a thick soup, take your pick. Either way, it will be very comforting, and flavored with the classic mire poix of slow-simmered carrots, celery & onions. I’ll add garnish bags of arugula!  It will thicken as it sits, so you may want to add a little water when you reheat. 

Coming Soon: Garbanzo Bean & Kale Salad in Tahini Dressing; Split Pea Spinach & Fennel Soup; Chicken & Parsnips; something spicy for Cinco de Mayo.  See all past menus on Dish Archive page!

Colorful Flavorful Food; About Kasha

Next week’s DDoW dishes are Stuffed Red Peppers with Thai-curry flavored filling and Kasha with Cabbage, Onions and Nuts; Easter/Earth Day week offerings are Mashed Coconut Sweet Potatoes and Green Rice with Aduki Beans. All vegan and gluten-free. See more descriptions. With these colorful dishes your holiday tables will be eye-poppingly pretty!

Planning a party this spring?
Graduation open house, bridal or baby shower? I’d be happy to help and offer “a la carte” catering services, including menu consultation, food delivery, on-site cooking, kitchen wrangling and clean-up.  Seriously, you want to do all that by yourself AND clean the house?! And, yes, I cook meat, too. I’ll be posting new party menus soon; here are previous sample menus & pics.


Illustration of Common Buckwheat plant Fagopyrum_esculentum

Common Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum


Officially known as Buckwheat Groats, this ancient whole grain was brought to America by Eastern European immigrants, who called it “kasha”.  It is not related to wheat despite the name. In fact, it’s not a cereal or a grass. Therefore, it is gluten-free. Buckwheat also contains all essential amino acids and high protein. See great info on Wikipedia.

Kasha has an earthy nutty flavor and cooks up just like rice and barley. Polish and Russians “mix it with pasta or used it as a filling for knishes and blintzes. The porridge was common, and is often considered the definitive peasant dish. It is made from roasted groats that are cooked with broth…”.

Cooked Kasha
Cooked kasha, aka buckwheat groats

Use less broth or water, and it will be more like a fluffy pilaf (drier). Use milk and it becomes a nice hearty breakfast porridge topped with fruit & nuts.

Asians, particularly Koreans and Japanese, make noodles (soba) out of buckwheat flour combined with wheat flour. Europeans and Americans often use buckwheat flour in baking and in crepes and pancakes. Be AWARE that most soba noodles are NOT gluten-free. I found only one Japanese brand that is 100% buckwheat, at United Noodle in Mpls. Naturally it’s quite expensive.


  • I met some very nice people at my cooking demo /workshop “How to Eat More Veggies Everyday” that I presented at last Sat’s Community Gardening Spring Resource Fair. I also had 3 enthusiastic kids volunteer as prep chefs, and who were more knowledgeable about whole grains than many adults!  We made 5 dishes based on various combos of slaw, barley, millet and lentils; and 2 vinaigrettes, one an orange ginger and the other a chipotle flavor. That is a total of 10 possible dishes!
  • Sat April 9 6th Annual Sustainable Communities Conference. 8:30am to 4:30pm, Central Lutheran Church, 333 12th St. S Mpls, MN 55404 (next to the Mpls Convention Center)  $5 Lunch (Chow Girls) $9 parking (consider car pools, biking or transit), Children’s Activities.  500+ volunteers from neighborhoods, congregations, schools, garden clubs, transition towns & environmental commissions will attend. More at www.afors.org.


DDoW Club — Bring on the Potlucks!

Summer Potluck Season is upon us! With that in mind, here are the next 3-4 weeks of the Delivered Dish of the Week Club. 1 qt is enough for a 10-12 person potluck (1/3 cp each). If a bigger event, order more!

Also, you’ll start to see more locally grown veg in salads, as they become plentiful at farmers’ markets. Hopefully, radishes will appear soon.  MARKET ALERT: Local Strawberries are here!


1) Sesame Soba & Whole Wheat Noodle Salad. Vegan. Noodles, some shredded veg and a creamy tahini “Annie’s Goddess” type dressing. Pls notify early if you would like all-soba noodles, ie no gluten.

Thai Green Beans (photo by Brad Dahlgaard)

2) Thai Green Beans. Vegan. Eat hot or cold. I’ll put crushed peanuts in a separate baggie.

JUNE 13-19

1) Rum-flavored Baked Beans. Vegan. Dark and rich-tasting thanks to the rum & molasses sauce. A big hit at a catered BBQ. Serve hot in a crockpot; although I think it would be fine at room temperature, too.

2)  Herb Pesto Potato Salad. Vegan. Will include some crunchy veggies. No mayo —  it can sit out on the picnic table all day!

JUNE 20-26

1) Black-eyed Peas Salad in Cilantro Tamarind dressing. Vegan.

2) Kasha Pilaf with Toasted Walnuts and Scallions. Vegan. Kasha is a popular name for buckwheat groats, ie unhulled unprocessed grains. Nicely nutty. Buckwheat is misnamed and contains no gluten.

Let others bring the white & blue while you bring the RED

1) Roast Beet & Lentil Salad in Balsamic. Vegan. A very popular and incredibly beautiful dish. People who think they don’t like beets are usually won over.

Fireworks Salad (red rice & veg). Vegan, no gluten!

2) Red Rice & Crunchy Veg Salad with Cranberries. Vegan. By this time there should be fresh green peas, radishes, daikon and corn at the market? Then I’ll call it Fireworks Salad.

Click here to learn more about Delivered Dish of the Week Club, its terms and fees. To sign up for the Club and to place orders, just contact me with your name and address for delivery, and I’ll get back to you right away.