Jerry Traunfeld enjoys using kasha—the toasted buckwheat groats that are a staple in Eastern European cooking (and the general term for all sorts of cooked grains). His trick is to mix the grains with egg whites before cooking them in a nonstick skillet. "It keeps the kasha from getting mushy," Traunfeld says. "I don't know why it works, but it does." Kasha is sold in a variety of grinds; Traunfeld likes the coarse Wolff's brand best (wolffskasha.com). Here, he flavors the nutty grains with sweet currants and earthy sage to make an excellent vegetarian side dish.
In a nonstick skillet, mix the kasha with the egg whites. Set the skillet over moderate heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the kasha smells toasted and the grains are separate, about 5 minutes.
In a saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and cook over high heat until tender and browned in spots, 8 minutes. Add the sage and salt and cook for 30 seconds longer. Add the kasha, water and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the water has been absorbed, 12 minutes. Add the currants, fluff the kasha with a fork and serve.
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