Despite its name, buckwheat is not a form of wheat at all. It is a seed in the rhubarb and sorrel family — not even technically a grain, botanically speaking. But because it is eaten like a grain and is rich in fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants like one, it is fair to call it a whole grain. And a gluten-free one at that.
I grew up adoring it in the form of kasha — toasted buckwheat groats that cook up just like rice — that my grandma would toss with browned onions and bow-tie pasta to make kasha varnishkes. But I have also come to love the nutty depth of flavor it imparts to Japanese soba noodles, and to breakfast foods such as pancakes and muffins made with buckwheat flour.
These waffles are a case in point. Here, the more intense flavor of buckwheat is balanced with milder whole-wheat flour or, to keep the dish gluten-free, brown rice flour. Ground flaxseed adds another layer of texture and nutrition. It serves to give the batter some of the structure that gluten would provide as well.
Buttermilk and a little healthful oil ensure the waffles turn out as tender as they are hearty and nutty-tasting. A topping of fresh berries and a drizzle of pure maple syrup seal the deal for an enticing way to start the day.
Krieger’s most recent cookbook is “Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.