Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Comfort of Kasha - Kasha Varnishkes with Frizzled Onions

Kasha Varnishkes

It's time to get out your old world tablecloth for one of the
ultimate Jewish/Eastern European "grandma loves you"
recipes, a homey bowl of bow ties and buckwheat groats.

Kasha (Buckwheat Groats)

Kasha (from the Russian), coarse granulation. Though
botanically a seed, it is largely processed and
prepared as a grain, ideal for gluten-free diets.

Kasha Varnishkes - Slightly adapted from the Birkett Mills recipe


1 cup medium or coarse kasha
2 cups water
2 jumbo vegetable bouillon cubes
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 cups sliced mushrooms, sweated then browned with a teaspoon of butter or oil
1/2 pound bow-tie pasta, boiled until al dente then drained
1 half onion, sliced into thin rings
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oil for frying


In a small saucepan, heat the water and bouillon cubes to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Meantime, in a large saucepan or skillet on medium heat, toast the kasha, stirring frequently until it is fragrant. Add beaten egg and stir constantly until it dries as it coats all the kasha grains. Discard any occasional clumps of egg white. The grains will bulk in size. Carefully pour the simmering stock into the hot kasha, averting your face from the steam. Reduce heat to low and cover the saucepan. Simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the stock is absorbed. Turn off heat. Fluff up kasha with a fork and transfer to a large serving bowl. Stir in pasta and mushrooms, taking care not to break the pasta.

Heat the frying oil in a large skillet until thinned but not smoking (about 20 seconds). Lightly dredge the onion rings in flour, then arrange carefully in the hot oil without touching each other.

Fry the onion rings until browned and very crispy on each side, watching that they do not burn. Turn off the heat and remove the rings to a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle them with salt. Arrange the rings on the kasha mixture. Serve immediately while onions are still hot and crunchy. Serves 2-3.

Kasha Varnishkes

This post is being sent to Suganya of Tasty Palettes, hosting JFI - Whole Grains for Indira of Mahanandi, the creator of the monthly JFI.

This post is also for Ulrike of K├╝chenlatein, hosting Presto Pasta Nights #83 for Ruth of Once Upon a Feast, the creator of this weekly event.

Been There, Done That ~
Buckwheat Breton Oven Pancake
Brown Rice, Chickpeas and Broccoli Rabe

Other People's Eats ~

Sweet Potato and Kasha Burgers
Mixed Herb Kasha Salad
Shiitake Buckwheat Breakfast Pilaf


  1. What cute little bow ties hehe I adore this~~

  2. Thanks for sharing the recipe for PPN

    Ulrike from K├╝chenlatein

  3. I had not even heard about Kasha till now...thank you for this post...those frizzled onions look pretty when they re round -cut, aren't it? :)

  4. I came to know a year ago that kasha was buckwheat. I remember a reference to it on Seinfeld - between George and his father.
    I've never tried buckwheat but its triangular shape fascinates me.

  5. Looks delicious and perfect for fall.

  6. My mom made this ALL the time when we were kids (though yours looks infinitely prettier than her version!). I still adore kasha. Love the little onion rings! :)

  7. I love kasha varnishkas -- my grandmother made it for me all the time, and just the aroma of kasha in my kitchen takes me right back to childhood in Grandma's kitchen. I love to make it for my grandkids now!

  8. You just took me on a trip back to my childhood. I used to love this and haven't had it in ages - I'll be changing that really soon. Shana Tova.

  9. I always eat kasha just straight, cooked absorbtion-method style in salted water. Delicious, especially topped with chili!

  10. I never tried kasha before. But I can see gluten-free diet in it so love to try this sometime. I always love the bow-tie pasta, its sooo cute and some frizzled onions on top OMG I love this recipe. Pics are amazing by the way.

  11. It's been a long time since I have eaten kasha. Your post and this beautiful recipe has me craving some.

  12. Hi Susan,

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your comment. Your recipes are awesome and the photos are mouth watering. Will try some and let you know how they go.


  13. What a lovely photo and the dish definitely takes me back to my childhood. It's the dish we serve with brisket slow roasted with lima beans and onions that make a fantastic "gravy" over the bow ties and kasha.

    Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  14. My mom used to make this when I was a kid, I need to convince her to start making it again!

  15. Shriya is right, this is perfect for gluten-free diners made with rice or corn or quinoa pasta (haven't found the bow-ties yet in a gluten-free pasta, but a small shape will work). You had me at Frizzled Onions!

  16. hi, never heard of this before, and it looks great:-)

  17. What a gorgeous dish, Susan. I've never cooked kasha before, but you make it look tempting.

  18. I bought a box of kasha the other day on a whim thinking "humm, I should probably figure out how to use something like this." Well I still haven't and it's still sitting there. Your pictures are gorgeous, so I think this recipe will be a great introduction. I also had no idea of the Russian origins!

  19. HI Susan - My Nana and Aunt used to make this all the time, I haven't had it in years. You've inspired me to make it. I don't remember mushrooms in the dish, that sounds like a great earthy addition. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  20. "Grandma loves you recipes" is very sweet. Makes me think of my Mom.

  21. Thanks, Wiffy. Bow ties sure are cute. I am always charmed by shape-y pasta. : }

    Glad to join in, Ulrike. Thanks for hosting.

    Thanks, Shn. You know how I love a good frizzled onion!

    Sra – That Seinfeld episode is famous and very funny, although not particularly flattering to kasha. : D

    Welcome, Gills ‘N Thrills! Thank you. Good to see you!

    Ricki – I was first introduced to kasha at a neighbor’s house as a kid. I still love it, too.

    Lydia – You are a good grandma!

    Giz – I’m glad you enjoyed it. Hope you had a very happy new year!

    Good to see you, Sarah! I like it “straight,” too. Never had it with chili, though, but I’ll bet the buckwheat holds up well against the spices.

    Welcome, Shriya! Thank you so much. Buckwheat is very hard to describe, much stronger than whole wheat, yet nutty. It is quite mellow when combined with egg and pasta.

    Lisa – Thank you. This is the first time I’ve had it in years myself. It’s a pretty effortless vegetarian meal.

    Hi, Jyoti! Thank you very much.

    Thank you, Ruth. This has proven to be a very nostalgic post for many.

    Hi, Sara! Welcome! It’s a great comfort food. Your mother would probably be delighted to make it for you again.

    Welcome, Rachel! Glad you like it. Gluten-free bow ties will turn up in the marketplace at some point, but until then, you could also try it with cubed, roasted potatoes.

    Thank you, Shreya! Good to see you. Buckwheat is not generally well known outside Europe and the U.S.

    Thank you, dear Vaishali. This dish has a good nutritional profile, and you do not have to prepare it with egg.

    Welcome, Andrea! Thank you! Kasha’s Slavic roots date back about a thousand years. There are many recipes to prepare with it, including sweet breakfast porridges.

    Lori Lynn – Thanks. Glad it brings you good memories. There seems to be a sweetly nostalgic pattern here. The feedback’s been very dear.

    Dear Meg – There's no one quite like a doting maternal figure. : )

  22. ciao susan.

    in Italy we use flour made of buckwheat...it is perfect in apple pies f.ex
    gives it a "old fashined" taste.

  23. That looks excellent with that fried onion. I love those old world Jewish recipes.I always like to think of it as the "soul food" of Europe.

  24. My grandmother used to make Kasha and passed the recipe down to my mom. I've never made it but it sounds like something I definitely need to make one of these days.

    I love the name of your blog!