Gluten Free Hot Cereal – Maple Buckwheat Groats with Pears and Dried Currants

by Jenn on December 7, 2010

in Breakfast,Budget,GF Substitutions,Gluten Free,Vegetarian

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Oatmeal is my comfort food.  I particularly enjoy it with salt, cinnamon and maple syrup accompanied by chopped up apples and a little bit of cream poured overtop. It’s a good hearty food that “sticks to the belly”, and about this time of year when the temps start getting chilly and a foot of snow falls to the ground in span of 24 hrs, the tea kettle finds itself whistling its familiar tune a little bit more often, and my breakfast often transforms from the usual yogurt/granola to the comfort of hot cereal.  There’s just one problem.  My gluten free husband doesn’t get to enjoy oatmeal breakfasts.

Not that there aren’t gluten free oats in the world (because there are). But the price is something neither of us could ever justify.  Especially now that we’d probably have to buy them from the U.S. and pay to ship them over the ocean.  Instead, I have been on a hunt for gluten free hot cereal.  We both learned the hard way that “flakes” are meant for baking only.  We tried millet, amaranth, and quinoa ones, but heated and cooked they tasted awful to us, no matter how much “doctoring” we did by adding various fixin’s.  No amount of maple syrup and brown sugar could rescue those sorry excuses for breakfasts.  And whole quinoa is ok, but it’s not either one of our favorite grain-like foods in the world.  And those rice-based hot cereal mixes?? Blegggh!

This week, however, we found the answer to our gluten free hot-cereal quest – buckwheat.

Whole Raw Buckwheat Groats

Buckwheat actually isn’t a cereal, but a pseudocereal.  The plant is in fact more closely related to rhubarb than wheat (I’m sure you’ll need this information next time you play Trivial Pursuit).  Despite using buckwheat flour, or sarrasin as it is called en français, in so many of my gluten free recipes (crêpes, anyone?), I cannot believe that until this week I had never even seen what buckwheat actually looks like.  They are these little tiny pyramid shaped seeds (for perspective they are pouring out of my espresso cup above), and to cook them I made them the way I’d cook any other grain-like ingredient – add twice volume of liquid to a pot and see how it goes.  Yep, I am an experimentalist at heart.  For breakfast, I chose to cook them in milk with a small pat of butter, and subsequently discovered I needed closer to 2.5 cups of milk for every cup of buckwheat groats.  I simmered them about 30 minutes so that they were nice and soft, an ideal quality in a hot breakfast that is supposed to mimic a favorite childhood comfort food…

I found it very easy for the buckwheat to readily absorb whatever flavor it was cooked in.  Texture was good, and just a light air of a fragrance wafted from the pot as I was stirring.  In truth it really did not need much “doctoring”.  Toss in a couple chopped up pears and a handful of dried currants, pour over a tad more milk and a little maple syrup (or a lot, if you are my husband) for some sweetness, and our buckwheat breakfast was a total success.  I think I like pears in it better than I would apples :)

What new foods have you discovered lately?

Also linked to – Gluten Free Wednesdays