Kasha varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of roasted buckwheat groats (kasha) tossed with bowtie noodles. Apparently, my grandfather hated kasha, as he had too many memories of eating it growing up. But we love it. To me, this earthy, satisfying dish typifies Old Country cooking. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat. Rather, it’s a nutritious, gluten-free whole grain from the rhubarb and sorrel family.
Until now, I had to make kasha varnishkes with gluten-free fusilli pasta, as there was no gluten-free bowtie or farfalle pasta available. I was thrilled when Le Veneziane, a superb corn pasta from Italy, recently released gluten-free farfalle.
I wish we had gluten-free farfalle pasta a few years ago, since some of my daughter’s preschool and kindergarten projects used bowtie pasta. Don’t get me started, though, on schools’ unnecessary use of food in the classroom.
Kasha varnishkes can be served as a side-dish for brisket or it can stand alone as a vegetarian entree.
Gluten-Free Kasha Varnishkes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup uncooked kasha, medium or coarse granulation preferred
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups boiling water
9 ounces uncooked gluten-free farfalle pasta
- 1. Heat oil in a large sauté pan that has a lid. Add onions and mushrooms, and sauté uncovered for 5 minutes over medium heat until onions are translucent and mushrooms are browned. Remove onions and mushrooms to a plate and set aside.
- 2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg, salt and pepper with a fork. Add kasha and stir to coat the kernels with egg.
- 3. Put the egg-coated kasha in the same sauté pan that you used earlier, and cook over high heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until egg has dried on the kasha and the kernels are separate. Reduce heat to low.
- 4. Add onions and mushrooms to the kasha in the sauté pan, and stir to combine. Pour in the boiling water, and cover pan tightly. Simmer 10-12 minutes over low heat until all the liquid is absorbed.
- 5. Meanwhile, cook farfalle pasta according to the package directions; drain; transfer to a serving bowl.
- 6. Add about 3 cups of the kasha mixture to the pasta and toss well. (This will leave you with 1 cup of extra kasha mixture; refrigerate for later use.) Serve kasha varnishkes warm.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings