Mushroom ‘fried’ kasha is such a quick and easy, nutritious meal to whip up. It’s rich and gorgeous, basic and yet feels luxurious. The mushrooms, their texture and aroma, the chocolatey earthy flavour of kasha, the garlic, it does it for me. I am a real garlic lover, which is a good thing as it is a super powerful anti-inflammatory. And I never get bitten by mosquitoes.
Kasha is a lovely way to eat buckwheat. It is roasted buckwheat, and a pseudo-grain. I use it like you would rice really, it’s slightly drier, but richer in flavour and nutrition and very light to eat and digest. That’s one of the great things about this type of food, you don’t need heavy beans for protein, that are difficult for some to process, you have the kasha, the peas, the mushroom, and it is a balanced meal. It gives you what you need without weighing you down.
Portobello mushrooms are beautiful funghi, so soft and tactile, so stunning. I’m a big mushroom fan. I like my mushroom (I should say we, as Dan refuses to eat them ‘under-cooked’) sauted or sliced and roasted until they’re reduced and browning, bringing out the rich nuttiness and dense chewy texture. I don’t like watery rubbery-ness in a mushroom when cooked at all. Although, a freshly picked field mushroom is delicious very lightly sauted, you just can’t beat it, I feel completely wild just thinking about them!!
I really loved taking these photos. Ordinary ingredients just became so incredibly beautiful to me. The peas, frozen and from a packet, glow like jewels. They were just stunning. To me it is a lesson in taking things for granted. We so often do, it is the way the mind works. But we mustn’t. Importantly, someone, many people, many hands picked and packaged and transported those peas, and if I don’t recognise that, over and over again (for me it takes a while…) then how can I ever make a cognizant decision about what it is I am consuming and what my values are and what I ideally want them to be? How can I be truly alive in a meaningful sense if I don’t engage honestly with the things I am consuming, the things I am endorsing? I strive to do this, but it is not easy, as it goes so deep, it’s so complicated, our lives are meshed in complexity and habitual glossing over of details that is just so difficult to break free from. But we must ask ourselves, and if the society we lived in was at all decent, societal structures would care to ask and to answer: what are the effect of those foods on the environment, where have they come from, how were the workers treated, how did it make them feel? What is the carbon footprint? How is it farmed? What does that plant do to the land, to the creatures, to their habitat? Is it sustainable?
A simple whole food diet makes it easier to get to grips with what it is you are eating, what it is that your money is making happen, how you are connected to the world, as we all are, by so many invisible and yet very real tendrils.
A life spent eating your own produce and living off your own land must be so deeply satisfying. Hard-work, undoubtedly, at times grueling, but so real and so right. With my hand disability I am not ever going to be able to do that, but I would hope so much that Dan would embrace that life, at least in part, and that the future we make offers us some opportunity for self-sufficiency. And through my local organic fruit and veg box, and the health food shop and online ethical retailers, the herbs, aloe vera and green beans we grow, I find so much satisfaction and a far improved relationship to what I eat, that it is enough for me now. Food is just the most wonderful gift to us, I am so so thankful for this good food that has made my life so much better and bought me a lot more balance than I had before, and so much variety to my diet.
I am on a journey, to learn, to find out what this reality is I am taking part in instead of ignoring it. I’m not going to judge myself or stress myself out about eating an orange that comes from Spain. Let’s face it, some people like to point the finger or make a big deal about their values, but all too often, however well-meaning, it’s a bit piece-meal. They hop on a plane whenever they want then go on about the importance of buying local produce and fighting global warming. Let’s be honest. This world we live on makes it so hard for us to be consistent I know, and we have to live in it. All we can do is our best, forwards looking too as the past is spent and you cannot change it. Dan and I never go on planes, we’ve never had a car either, that could change, but so far our carbon footprint is relatively pretty small. We eat a lot of local produce, but a lot of the food we eat isn’t local too and has traveled some way. Unsurprisingly, we don’t eat locally sourced cocoa, or coconut, or rooibos tea. But we do try to be as open-eyed as we can, and to buy from good ethical producers. But this doesn’t happen all the time. And it is a journey. If I have learned anything about changing your relationship with food for the better it is that.
Mushroom fried kasha is great by itself, with a curry, or salad, it’s super versatile. I like to eat it in a bowl with chopsticks and some salad leaves, like this baby kale with a squeeze of lemon. It’s excellent with a curry, with brassicas, cold in a salad with a strong but light lemony dressing and crumbled walnuts and olives, as a stuffing for a squash or marrow, or as part of a nut loaf or burger. Make a load and keep it in the fridge or freeze it, it’s so useful to batch make, and then it is there. Kasha is good to eat the next day, when first cooked it can appear mushy (types vary I have found but the kasha I predominantly buy is like this). Left, the grains separate well and are easily fluffed and broken up by hand.
- 3/4 cup kasha
- 2 cups water, filtered
- 2 tbsp neutral oil, I use mild coconut oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp sea salt, to taste
- 2 large portobello/ field mushrooms, or the equivalent other variety
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup peas/ petit pois
- green leaves like baby kale with a squeeze of lemon juice
- couple of crumbled walnuts
Rinse the kasha and add to a saucepan pouring over boiling water and cook on a low heat with the lid on for 5-8 mins (kasha can vary with different brands) until absorbed. Leave to one side to cool.
Heat the oil in a hot frying pan and crumble the mushroom into small pieces into the pan, adding the salt. Saute on a medium low heat until browning.With a minute or so to go add the crushed/ finely chopped garlic and black pepper.
Cook the peas in hot water for a few minutes.
Crumble in the kasha by hand into the mushrooms and stir gently, being careful not to mash. Season to taste. Add the drained peas and serve.
Don't handle the kasha whilst hot as it is at first often quite mushy. Don't worry if it seems overcooked and mushy as it cools it will break up easily into fluffy grains.
To make its goodness even more bio-available soak the kasha for at least 30 minutes with a dash of cider vinegar or something acidic.
You could also use buckwheat groats and have them unroasted, or roast them yourself in a dry pan for five minutes or so making them kasha.
I’ve been listening to… Solomon Burke ‘Cry To Me’..