Kasha boasts a wonderfully nutty flavor when toasted. You can buy it already toasted. If you buy the untoasted variety, toss it lightly in a dry skillet over medium heat until it colors. Hearty, but not too heavy, kasha is a staple of Northern Europe and Russia traditionally served as an accompaniment to meats, in pilafs or as the essential ingredient in many traditional Jewish dishes like kasha varnishkes. Exotic though it may sound, kasha is just basic buckwheat groats, used like a grain, but botanically just a cousin of true grains. Once only available through specialty grocers, you'll find kasha in many health food stores and supermarkets now as well. So, by all means, go nuts with kasha!
- Soak the dried mushrooms (shiitake or porcini are very flavorful) in water until soft.
- Drain, saving the soaking water, and slice, discarding any tough portions.
- Add the groats to 3 cups boiling water (including the mushroom-soaking liquid), lower heat, and add the carrot, the onion and the mushrooms.
- Cover and simmer until water is absorbed.
- Add salt or natural soy sauce to taste.