Kasha Varnishkes

This is one of those recipes from the old-country, dating back – literally – over a thousand years.  But that doesn’t make it a relic, some phonograph gathering dust in the attic, that’s brought down once a year so that grandchildren can marvel at the sound-machines of yesteryear.  This recipe is nothing more than last year’s iPod, ready to figure into the regular rotation of modern life.

This recipe has all the attributes of a modern meal.  It’s quick and easy to make.  It has only a few ingredients, most of which you should have on hand.  And finally, it’s light, healthy, and delicious.

Kasha is just another name for buckwheat, which you can find boxed or loose in most grocery stores.  Kasha makes a great breakfast, giving a warm porridge when cooked in milk and nuts.  Its most traditional use, however, is as Kasha Varnishkes, in which the buckwheat is tossed with bowtie pasta.

To get the best flavor from kasha, you should toast or cook the buckwheat over high heat, which helps seal the nutty, crunchy flavor into the kernels, which then creates a wonderful counter-balance to the soft and pliant noodle.  As noodles go, the bow-tie or farfalle is the most traditional, but rigatoni or rotini would provide a modern twist to this classic dish.


PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 15 minutes
YIELD: Serves 4

2 large onions, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup kasha (buckwheat)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 pound farfalle
1 cup peas

1. Sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan with a lid (but don’t cover the onions).  Cook the onions until they are soft and golden.  Remove to a plate.

2.  In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth or water to a boil.  In a separate large pot, bring salted water to a boil (for the pasta).

3.  Beat the egg in a small mixing bowl and stir in the kasha. Mix, making sure all the grains are coated. Put the kasha in the same pan as the onions, set over a high heat, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until the egg has dried and the kernels are separate.  Reduce the heat to low.

4.  Pour the boiling water or chicken broth into the pan with the kasha.  Be careful, it may splatter.  Cover with a lid, and simmer over low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the kasha kernels are tender and the liquid has been absorbed.

5.  Once the kasha is cooked, mix in the onions and peas and cook for one more minute, uncovered, just so the entire mixture is warm.

6.  Cook the pasta according to the directions.  Once cooked, mix the pasta into the kasha, and serve warm!


4 responses to “Kasha Varnishkes

  1. perfect for rosh hashanah! i love this recipe, it is just what i need for a special dinner on sunday night to celebrate the coming new year. i’m heading out now to get the ingredients. happy memories of making this years ago for my family but i had forgotten about it until my daughter mentioned it this morning. headed straight to foodgawker and voila!

  2. Thanks for the comment! Have a Happy New Year!

  3. Merrimac Grandma

    I learned to make this from my Mother-In-Law in 1970. She was about 80 at the time, and the recipe – very similar to this (but without the peas) – had been in the family forever. The one fact that she stressed was to use the very tiny bow ties, not the big ones. I think it really makes a difference.

  4. I love making Kasha for the Holidays, I do not put peas in it but I will try it this year and see how my family likes it.

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