Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kasha Varnishkes

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. 

Kasha Varnishkes
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 egg
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.


  1. oh yum! you had me at caramelized onions :)

  2. This sounds delicious and I enjoyed learning about your experience with it growing up.

  3. Gosh I would LOVE some pasta right now. I'm trying to cut back on the carbs for just two weeks to see if it helps me get 5 lbs off. The eggs, on the other hand, I've been eating daily. I bet I could turn this into a salad!

  4. That looks awesome!! Happy end of summer to you :( It's pouring rain, windy, and cold here in Boston today. Does NOT feel like August at all.

    By the way, I LOVE your story of how you met your husband :) Adorable!!


  5. You eat a very wonderful and wide variety of food, this looks great

  6. I've never heard of that before - looks delicious! I don't think I could have a non-meat dinner at my house!

  7. Totally new to me ..looks delicious!!

  8. Heather and Sweet and Crumby -- Thanks for your kind words!
    Dawn -- I think this would be equally tasty wihtout the noodles tossed in!
    Kristy -- Thanks for visiting
    Sues -- Yes, I am freezing here in Boston today too, but still managed to go out for fro yo, which I ate in the heated car.
    Jennifurla -- Thanks...we enjoy variety! Well, I could eat mac and cheese every night, but the husband is another story.
    Biz -- I guess I am lucky that we are both happy to eat meatless most nights a week. I was a vegetarian for years, and neither of us enjoy red meat all that much.
    Aipi -- Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I've never heard of this but it sounds insanely good! Would love to try it - am adding it to my list of recipes.

  10. Surprisingly this is one Jewish dish my family never really had. I will have to try your version sometime!

  11. Caramelized onions are one of my FAVORITE flavors. This whole dish sounds delicious!

  12. Thanx for visiting our blog..Nice n healthy pasta dish...will giv a try...

  13. This looks excellent!! Nice and healthy! Just what I love in a meal, thanks!

    By the way, you so need to spend your last day relaxing!!

  14. You know what the chicken was good for? Scooping up those last few bites of Kasha Varnishekes! (You know, the little runaway Kasha bits...) I like the idea of the hard boiled eggs and since buckwheat is gluten free and I can get small rice/corn pasta, this would be a wonderful grain option in place of rice, polenta, or quinoa (which I love, but get bored with every so often). I wonder if those runaway Kasha bits stick to the eggs as well as to the chicken...