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Kasza: Ancient Grains In Polish Cuisine

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Kasza: Ancient Grains In Polish Cuisine

Poland could be recognized for its numerous varieties of groats in much the same way that Italy is known for its pastas! Ancient grains have been a part of Polish cuisine since at least as early as the middle ages (and probably long before then too!). For centuries, the pantries of both the peasantry and the aristocracy were always stocked with these grains, which were used for a large variety of Polish dishes. In fact, groats were the original pierogi filling! Buckwheat, pearl barley, semolina, amaranth, millet and many other varieties continue to be utilized in Polish dishes and baked goods today. They are not only great for stuffing classic Polish foods such as cabbage rolls or poultry roasts, they also make a great side to any meal! 

Not only do these grains, commonly used in Polish cuisine, are very light and incredibly nutritious! Every variety is packed with vitamins, minerals and health promoting elements making them a very healthy part of any meal. To help you understand their benefits and culinary uses, we’ve provided a short list of some of the most popular groats used in Polish dishes below. Each one is available for purchase from Polana.com, and can be delivered right to your door anywhere in the U.S. with our nationwide shipping!

Here are some of our top picks: 

  • BUCKWHEAT GROATS (roasted & unfrosted):

BUCKWHEAT GROATS (roasted & unfrosted)

Groats have been one of the most popular elements of Polish cuisine since at least as far back as the middle ages, and perhaps one of the healthiest and most commonly used in all that time has been, buckwheat!

Some of its benefits include:

  • Great for weight loss – this grain digests slowly and keeps you filled longer
  • Great source of magnesium, iron, vitamin E and lecithin
  • It’s heart healthy – helps lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure
  • It’s Gluten Free! – does not cause allergies and safe for gluten free diet

Buckwheat groats (both roasted and unfrosted) are what is most commonly referred to as “kasza” (kasha) in Polish. They have a toasty, nutty flavor and are soft and chewy when cooked. Cooked buckwheat is commonly used in Poland as a stuffing for roasted poultry, cabbage rolls, or pierogi. They also make a great side dish - great when sautéed with veggies like onion, mushroom and spinach. Buckwheat gives any dish a unique earthy flavor and a big nutritional value!

Purchase Kupiec brand Roasted Buckwheat from Polana Here

Purchase Kupiec brand Unroasted Buckwheat from Polana Here.

  • MILLET:

MILLET

Millet is one of the oldest and healthiest groats. Though still somewhat underestimated, it is slowly coming back to favor. Its nutritional value is equal to that of buckwheat. Millet contains little starch, but has a lot of easily digestible protein. It is distinguished by the having the highest content of B vitamins as well as iron and copper. Millet groats are very fine, making them for a very light addition to both salty and sweet dishes!

Try Millet as a substitute for oatmeal in the morning! With a finer seed than buckwheat or quinoa, millet offers a lighter texture and taste, which makes it a great (and incredibly healthy!) breakfast food! The gluten free grain can be cooked just like oatmeal and enjoyed mixed with your favorite morning porridge ingredients. 

Quick Polish Millet recipe:

Enjoy a bowl of millet with a sliced banana, a handful of walnuts, cinnamon and Polish honey to taste! Boil the millet in water or milk. Peel and cut the banana into slices or cubes and stew it on a pan with honey and most of the nuts. Season the groats with a little cinnamon and honey and put them in bowls. Put the stewed banana and nut mix on top and sprinkle with the remaining nuts. SMACZNEGO!

Millet porridge

  • BARLEY GROATS:

BARLEY GROATS

Pearl barley is another one of the world’s oldest and most cherished grains. It is created when unhulled barley is polished, removing the inedible coating and creating smooth, pearled barley grains that have a quicker cooking time. Pearl barley is very versatile. It lends itself to a variety of dishes, and has been used for ages in the cuisines of many nations around the world, Poland included! Added to soups, as a stuffing for cabbage rolls, or served with thick goulash or vegetable stews among many other dishes, it not only provides a great, nutty flavor, chewy texture and light taste, but it is also quite nutritious! Pearl barley is a great source of fiber and it also contains B-complex vitamins, protein, calcium and iron.

Try Pearl Barley groats from Polana in a traditional Polish Barley Soup from our partner and Polish food blogger, Karolina Klesta of POLISH FOODIES!

Barley Soup

Purchase Kupiec Barley Groats from Polana Here.

  • SPELT GROATS:

SPELT GROATS

The shelves of grocery stores in Poland are filled with different varieties of groats and grains. Now, among them, we can once again find spelled groats. Known for millennia but somewhat forgotten for a time, they are now making a comeback and very rightfully so! Spelled groats are characterized by their high content of valuable nutrients and minerals. Low in gluten, they are also a good source of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamin A, B vitamins and E. Spelt is also rich in mineral salts such as zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium and more. With all these nutritional components spelled groats can help to detoxify the body, aid with regeneration and support the work of many internal organs. They are a great substitute for rice or potatoes in any dish and also delicious mixed into a salad or enjoyed for breakfast with some fresh fruit and honey. 

Purchase Melvit brand Spelt Groats from Polana Here.

Spelt flour is also often used for Polish breads, which give the loaves a high nutritional content! Try one of our Rustic Sourdough breads made with flour from this ancient grain.

Rustic Sourdough bread

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