Well, it is my last day of summer vacation! This has been the first summer that I have taken completely off, because there really wasn't all that much time between when we got back from our honeymoon and when I go back to work. It has been really nice. But now I can't decide how to spend my last day...organizing or relaxing? What would you do?
Kasha varnishkes are a traditional Eastern European Jewish dish that combines buckwheat with caramelized onions and noodles. Growing up, we often ate this at Friday night dinners at my grandparents' house. I always had seconds and thirds and fourths! This is traditionally a side dish to a meat meal (such as a roast chicken), but I always wanted to just eat the kasha varnishkes. Now I am a grown up, and there is no one to tell me to eat some chicken too...so I don't! I just make this as a main dish, and top it with a little sliced hard-boiled egg for protein.
I make mine with a little less fat, and use whole-grain pasta. That makes this dish a terrific source of whole grains, protein, and fiber! Traditionally, this is made with the mini-farfalle (the smaller bow-tie pasta), but I can never find that in whole grain, so I just go ahead and use the bigger noodles. For the egg topping, I just used the whites on mine, so I could watch my fat and calories a little more careful -- you can use the yolk (like my husband!) if you prefer. Also, I topped mine with a little extra caramelized onions from a larger batch I had made earlier in the week, which was delicious! You could just go ahead and use a cup or two extra onion and then reserve some for the garnish.
serves 6-8 as a main course, many more as a side dish
adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman
3 cups chopped onion (I use my food processor!)
2 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 cup kasha, or buckwheat
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken stock
1 13 oz box whole-grain farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
extra caramelized onions for garnish (or caramelize extra and reserve)
6-8 additional eggs, hard-boiled for garnish
1. Put the onion in a large skillet with a lid, over medium heat. Don't fuss around with it, but do check it towards the end so that it does not burn.
2. Once the onion has become dry, and nearly sticks to the bottom, add the oil. Raise the heat to medium-high. Stir a little more frequently, until the onions are nicely browned. When caramelizing onions, I find it helpful to add a few tablespoons of water now and then if they are drying out too much and sticking. (Or, if you are more decadent, you could add extra oil.) Cook for an additional 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, beat the egg. Add the kasha, and stir thoroughly. Also, cook the pasta according to package directions.
4. Once the onions are caramelized, add the kasha mixture, along with some salt and pepper (less is more, you can add more to taste later). Toast the mixture for 3 minutes, until it gains a little color.
5. Reduce the heat to low, and add the chicken stock. Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Add the cooked noodles and stir through, then adjust the seasonings to taste. Garnish with egg slices and additional caramelized onions and serve.
FYI -- I found a box of kasha (the brand is Wolf's) in section of Jewish/Kosher foods of my supermarket.