Buckwheat has an earthy, grassy flavor with a slight cocoa taste and it tastes best when the kernels are roasted. It is very hearty and flavorful, although it may seem overpowering to some people. Buckwheat that has been roasted is known by the Russian name “kasha” and unroasted buckwheat is simply called “buckwheat”. Roasted buckwheat is darker in color and has a stronger flavor than unroasted.
Buckwheat groats, or the kernels of the plant, are triangular-shaped and are used for hot cereal, sausage filler, soups, and savory side dishes. Buckwheat is most often ground into flour and used in pancakes, crepes, muffins, and soba noodles. The flour contains no gluten, so it must be added to wheat flour for use in yeast breads.
Buckwheat is a rich source of the amino acid, lysine. It contains high levels of protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, B vitamins, and iron. Because it contains no gluten, buckwheat is an excellent wheat substitute for people who are allergic to gluten. Buckwheat is often found in the kosher sections of food stores and in specialty shops and health food stores.