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Kasha Varnishkas

By: 
Tina Wasserman
Kasha Varnishkas
Photo: Victor Appell
Photo: Victor Appell

Kasha (buckwheat) is probably the grain most identified with Eastern European Jews, but the grain (actually a fruit seed) least eaten by contemporary American Jews. This earthy, chewy gluten-free grain could easily replace rice or potatoes on the modern Jewish table, but it doesn’t. What a pity! There is nothing like pot roast gravy on a pile of little brown granules mixed with golden fried onions and mushrooms to transport one back to the "good ol' days" that weren't so good but are long, long gone. "Try it, you’ll like it" ... and it's good for you too!

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Ingredients: 
1 cup kasha
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
2 beef or vegetable bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 ounces pasta bow ties
Directions: 
  1. Heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and add the kasha. Pour the beaten egg over all of the kasha and stir constantly until egg evenly coats the grains and each grain separates from the rest of the kasha. This should be done over a medium heat so that the egg does not cook before it coats the kasha grains. Put kasha in a bowl. 
  2. Reheat pan for 10 seconds then place the oil in the used pan and sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté another 3–5 minutes or until the mixture is golden. 
  3. Return the kasha to the pan with the onions and mushrooms. Add the boiling water, bouillon cubes, salt, and pepper, and stir to dissolve the bouillon. Cover and cook over a low flame for 15 minutes or until the kasha is tender. 
  4. Meanwhile cook the pasta bow ties according to package directions. 
  5. Combine the kasha and bowties and serve as is or with some gravy from your meat entrée on top.
Tina's Tidbits: 

  • Kasha (buckwheat) is a naturally gluten-free food, not a ceral or wheat product. 
  • Coating the uncooked granules with the raw egg prevents the kasha from swelling up. If you eliminate this step, you will feel like you are eating a bowl of Wheatena.
  • Always sauté onions alone initially before adding other vegetables with a high water content. This allows the sugars in the onion to caramelize and makes the onion sweeter.
  • Although any pasta shape can be used, bow tie pasta is to kasha what grape jelly is to peanut butter!
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