Buckwheat

I’ve found many reasons to love buckwheat: it’s gluten free, packed with protein, and easy to prepare. Get buckwheat recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
My first memorable encounters with buckwheat grouts were in Russia. In the United States, roasted buckwheat grouts are typically sold as “kasha,” but in Russia, all the каша I ate as a hot breakfast cereal was a mix of grains. My Russian friends tended to cook buckwheat on its own—traditionally in an oven until it softened to a porridge—and serve it as a savory meal more than a sweet one.

I’ve since found many reasons to love buckwheat. Despite its name in English, it’s not a type of wheat: it’s actually a gluten-free seed in the same plant family as rhubarb. So if wheat isn’t on your diet, buckwheat is your friend. Unlike some gluten-free grains, it’s packed with protein and amino acids. Soaking it removes some of its phytic acid, which can make it easier to digest. A presoak also speeds up the cooking process—instead of a slow bake in a low-temp oven, you can have it ready from the stovetop in 5 minutes for a modern take on каша сименуха, a traditional Russian breakfast, or for an easy dinner with roasted vegetables.
Learn to make Buckwheat Porridge with Mushrooms and Eggs and Roasted Vegetables with Tofu and Buckwheat

Beans and Cornbread

Homemade vegetarian baked beans can have the perfect balance of sweet and tang. Get bean recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Baked beans can be a vegetarian’s guilty pleasure. Cans on the store shelf often make up for the lack of bacon by upping the sweetness factor, taking the beans out of the “healthy food” realm and putting them in the same category as store-bought granola and sweet potato fries. It’s unfortunate, because when cooked properly, vegetarian baked beans can have the perfect balance of sweet and tang.

I’ve always found canned vegetarian baked beans to be cloyingly sweet. Then I got hooked on beans in tomato sauce when I lived in London. These navy beans stewed in tomato sauce and popped into a can aren’t exactly gourmet, but the first flavor on my tongue wasn’t corn syrup. The Brits are great fans of them as beans on toast. As filling as this meal was on a backpacker budget, a stand in Covent Garden went one better: for a few quid, I could get a giant, piping hot jacket potato smothered in these beans. Since then, I’ve upscaled the beans, but I still love to serve them in baked potatoes.
Learn to make Vegetarian Baked Beans and Baked Polenta

Squash and Rice

Squash and pumpkins keep far longer than you think and can be eaten from sunup to sundown. Get winter squash recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Our winter squash and pumpkin crop yielded little last year, and as I packed away other storage veg, I thought I would have to do without a cold-weather stash. But as daylight waned, friends and family kept sending me home with squash, most fearing it would spoil before they could use it or lacking inspiration for how to prepare it.

If you’re in that camp, this week’s post should both quell fears and inspire delicious meals. Winter squash and pumpkins keep far longer than people think, particularly if they’re properly cured and stored. And they can go in a range of meals, from breakfast to lunch to dinner to dessert. As a bonus, they’re easy to prep and cook ahead for multiple quick, unexpected meals, like risotto and curry.
Learn to make Thai Squash Curry and Squash–Mushroom Risotto

Sourdough Bagels

Many commercial operations make soft, fluffy bagels. You can do far better at home. Get sourdough recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
My first attempt at sourdough bagels followed our backcountry adventure last summer: it was a win for its poke bowl and huckleberry sourdough pancakes but a loss in the bagel department, when I had to resort to supermarket bakery “bagels.” Our county’s only bagel shop closed years ago, so the only local option was closer to squishy rolls than chewy, dense bagels. I started testing my own version as soon as we returned home.

Some research revealed the main problem: many commercial operations steam their bagels. It’s quick, cheap, and easy to automate for massive batches, but the bagels are soft and fluffy. (I’m not even sure the supermarket went this far; more likely, they took their hamburger bun dough and poked a hole in the center.) As with soft pretzels, bagels really want to be immersed in boiling water before baking. Boiling the dough lets its starches gel, forming a firm crust that surrounds a dense interior after baking. Without this step, you’ll end up with a texture and flavor closer to a bread roll. Although some bakers swear by a water bath spiked with honey and others go au naturel, I find a soda bath, similar to the one used for Sourdough Pretzel Bites, adds flavor and color.
Learn to make Sourdough Bagels and Bagel Breakfast Sandwich