Buckwheat - The Versatile Pseudo-cereal

Buckwheat - The Versatile Pseudo-cereal

Bev Dunne

With many of us spending more and more time at home, I’ve found there now seems to be quite a resurgence in cooking new and interesting foods. With this in mind, I thought this week I would write about a food which is not all that well known, however is rich in minerals and is often used instead of grains such as wheat, barley, oats and rice.

This food is buckwheat. Buckwheat is what is often known as a pseudocereal which means it can be eaten as you would a cereal grain. However, unlike grains such as wheat, barley and oats which grow as a grass, buckwheat is actually derived from the seeds of a plant which is distantly related to rhubarb. There are two other pseudocereals which many may be familiar with, they are quinoa and amaranth.

Because of its name, buckwheat is often believed to be related to wheat however there is no connection at all to wheat. In fact, this seed is extremely versatile as unlike wheat it is gluten free which is a bonus for those suffering from a gluten and wheat intolerances.

Also, unlike many common cereal grains, buckwheat is quite rich in minerals, particularly Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Phosphorus and Manganese. Even better, when buckwheat is cooked these minerals are more readily absorbed because buckwheat is low in phytic acid which can often reduce mineral absorption.

When it comes to cooking, buckwheat can be used in many ways. When it is first harvested the seed which is often known as a groat, is protected by a hard outer shell. When purchased, this outer shell has usually been removed to enable easy cooking. Buckwheat groats can be purchased in its raw form which is quite mild in flavour. You can also purchase the buckwheat groats roasted which gives them more of a nuttier flavour. They are also sometime processed into flakes similar to cornflakes, to be eaten as a cereal.

You can also buy buckwheat flour which can be stronger in flavour as the flour is ground from the buckwheat hulls. Buckwheat flour is very popular for making pancakes and is also often used in pasta. One buckwheat noodle some may be familiar with is the soba noodle.

Often buckwheat groats are used in a porridge and below is a recipe which I love. I’m sure many of us have made chia puddings at home. This recipe is a little similar, although more like a porridge, with the inclusion of buckwheat groats, chia seeds and hemp seeds to give extra protein.


Below is a hearty, nourishing salad.  Serve by itself, or with your favourite protein.

¾ cup roasted buckwheat
½ cup Puy Lentils
¼ cup apple juice infused dried cranberries
½ red onion, finely diced
1 diced small Lebanese cucumber
½ cup pine nuts, lightly roasted
½ cup Australian pumpkin seeds
80g crumbled feta
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 bunch shredded coriander
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp honey
1 pomegranate deseeded

Rinse both roasted buckwheat and Puy Lentils (separately) in a fine mesh sieve before cooking. Place the roasted buckwheat in a pan with 1 ½ cups water. Once boiling reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender, then drain. Add 2 cups water and lentils to pan, bring to boil then simmer for 20-30 minutes until cooked, then drain.

Lightly dry roast pine nuts and pumpkin seeds in non-stick pan until golden. Once buckwheat and lentils have cooled combine in a bowl with coriander, parsley, red onion, cranberries, cucumber, toasted pine nuts and pumpkin seeds, feta lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well.
Mix yoghurt, cumin and honey.  Spoon mixture onto top of grain salad together with pomegranate seeds.



2 cups raw buckwheat groats; 1 tbsp chia seeds; 1 tbs hemp seeds; 300ml almond milk; ¼ cup maple syrup; 1tsp cinnamon; 1/4 tsp nutmeg; 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Soak 2 cups buckwheat groats in 4 cups of water, preferably soaking overnight or for at least 1 hour. Rinse off in strainer, rinsing numerous times. Blend buckwheat groats together with remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender, until combined.

Scoop into bowl and add toppings of your choice – chopped fresh or dried fruit, flaked coconut, sunflower kernels, pepitas, cacao nibs or chopped nuts.  Add coconut yoghurt for added flavour.



With the evenings becoming a little cooler, I can feel the call of some tasty, wholesome soups. Below is a tomato soup with a difference which I’m sure you will love.  I love the chilli added to give it some spice, however if you don’t like chilli, this recipe is just as tasty without it.  Serve this with Sourdough Honor Bread and you will no doubt have a filling, scrumptious meal.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic crushed
1 chopped onion
2 tsp sambal oeleck (optional)
4 x 400g cans organic crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil
500mL vegetable stock
200g raw buckwheat groats.

Saute onion, garlic with sambal oeleck and basil.  Then stir in tomatoes, vegetable stock, buckwheat. Bring to the boil then simmer until buckwheat is cooked (approx. 25 minutes).