Not just pizzoccheri: from fidelins to traditional formats, the flour of this "non-cereal" can be used for a large quantity of recipes. Alone, for gluten free recipes. Or in combination with that of wheat. The ideal travel companions? Porcini mushrooms and cheeses
Exists a grain that is not a cereal, which is part of our food and wine heritage and which is used to produce certain types of pasta. We are talking about the buckwheat, the main ingredient of typical dishes of the Valtellina but not only, starting with pizzoccheri, from polenta taragna and come on sciatt, without forgetting i chisciol. An ingredient, buckwheat, particularly coveted by celiac, considering that does not contain gluten. But how best to use it in the kitchen?
A simple herb
Buckwheat or black wheat (Polygonum fagopyrum), despite the name, is not a cereal but a herbaceous plant, belonging to the family of polygonaceae. The seeds are many different, triangular and more similar to those of the beech than of the wheat, but after their grinding a flour very similar to that of wheat is obtained. Although grown in mountain areas, buckwheat fear the cold, so its life cycle takes place entirely in the spring and summer months, with sowing in March-April and harvested in July-August, when the plant becomes dry and the seed black and dry.
A cure-all against cholesterol
From a nutritional point of view, 100 grams of buckwheat contain a 72% carbohydrates, 13% protein and 3.4% fat. The proteins contained in the buckwheat seed boast a good biological value. They are in fact composed both of essential amino acids, such as lysine, threonine and tryptophan, and of sulfur-containing amino acids. Instead gluten is absent: this means that it can be used in all gluten-free recipes, suitable for people with celiac disease. Studies conducted on Chinese Yi population (ethnicity living in the mountainous areas of Sichuan and Yunnan), whose diet is also based on buckwheat, demonstrate the influence of the latter on low levels of "bad" cholesterol. This especially for the high content of flavonoids, which also act as antioxidants and protect our body from disease. Buckwheat is also a good source of magnesium, useful for improving the circulation blood and reduce the pressure; helps to keep blood sugar levels under control, reducing the risk of diabetes. According to a study published in the Journal of gastroenterology, eating foods rich in insoluble fiber such as buckwheat helps prevent the onset of gallstones. The high energy value of buckwheat makes it a particularly suitable food for sports. Only flaw, buckwheat is a potential allergen, and therefore a possible source of food allergies.
The heart in Valtellina
Of oriental origin, buckwheat has arrived in Italy in the fifteenth century. The first document attesting to its presence was found precisely in Teglio, in Valtellina, the "capital"Of buckwheat in Italy: in an act relating to the properties of the Besta family the" formentone "is mentioned, a term with which it is still called buckwheat in Sondrio and surroundings. "Furmentun", augmentative of "furment", that is wheat, intends to underline the high productivity of this plant, unlike the much longer life cycle of wheat. Already in 1616 the Graubünden historian Guler Von Weineck stated that in Valtellina "heyden”, Ancient German name for buckwheat. A name, this, which also refers to the exotic origin of buckwheat: "Heide" in German means "heath", but also "they pay". A sign that buckwheat could have come to Europe and Italy from the East not through the usual Mediterranean route, but from the steppe, by today's nomadic populations Russia.
Four to one
In general, buckwheat is used to make pasta together with white flour. To prepare the Valtellina pizzoccheri, for example, the super-authoritative Pizzocchero Academy prescribes 400 grams of buckwheat flour and 100 grams of white flour. In many products on the market, however, the percentage of white flour rises dramatically. But, perhaps at home, it is possible to prepare 100% buckwheat pizzoccheri, dosing water and flour well in order to obtain the right consistency; or search for them among gluten free products. To underline, then, that the Valtellina pizzoccheri have nothing to do with those of the Valchiavenna, sort of gnocchi in which buckwheat doesn't even appear.
The other types
But, as well as in pizzoccheri, buckwheat is also used in other types of pasta, such as i traditional formats (penne, fusilli, tortiglioni and more) in version gluten free. Or i Fidelin, a sort of spaghetti made from buckwheat and durum wheat flour, perfect for a seasoning with porcini mushrooms. The white flour instead disappears in the formats of fresh pasta prepared with buckwheat.
Seasonings and pairings
Having said that, how to season buckwheat pasta? The inspiration can only come from Valtellina cuisine. The traditional seasoning of pizzoccheri is cabbage, potatoes, butter, grated parmesan and flaked casera, with the precious alternative of Bitto. The pizzoccheri with are also excellent pumpkins and hazelnuts. For the other types of pasta, if you don't want to get to such richness, you can use a cream cheese like Gorgonzola, perhaps enriching its flavor with speck. Generally, ingredients are preferred which, with their delicate but very present taste, can soften the strong taste of buckwheat: porcini mushrooms, for example, perhaps the best combination with this "fake cereal". For an even healthier dish you can use a white vegetable ragout, boiled or in a pan: peppers, courgettes, celery, carrots and onion. And, why not, with the addition of some chopped pesto or basil, as in the chef's recipe Angelo Scuderi. Another interesting condiment to combine with the full flavor of buckwheat, that of walnuts, perhaps with the addition, even here, of speck.
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