Kasha Varnishkes (Buckwheat Groats with Bowtie Pasta) is a hearty, warming dish. Here the nutty flavor of kasha is paired with caramelized onion, earthy mushrooms, comforting pasta, the richness of butter, and a pop of freshness from parsley.
Winter! While most everyone I know is complaining about being cold, I’m sitting happily snuggled up in a sweater, wooly socks, sipping a hot drink to stay warm.
Winter foods, like roast chicken of all kinds, beef stew, and cheesy stuff galore (like bisque, cobbler, and casserole) are my happy place. And being from Buffalo, I don’t mind snow…even when I have to drive in it!
With my love for winter, I have always wanted to be a skier. It just seems like such a natural fit! Alas, my two left feet combined with the fact that I’m all thumbs precludes that. Needless to say, I’m not a snowboarder or ice skater either.
Despite my lack of proclivity for winter sports, I’m not one to turn down a good sledding run. And if you want to make a snowman, I’m your girl. Heck, I’ll even show up with some darn good homemade hot chocolate and give you a hot meal afterwards. Maybe something like Kasha Varnishkes, which is almost filling enough to be an entire meal in itself!
What is Kasha Varnishkes?
If you enjoy the nuttiness of toasted whole grains, Kasha Varnishkes will win your heart. Here kasha (toasted buckwheat) is paired with caramelized onion, earthy mushrooms, comforting pasta, the richness of butter, and a pop of freshness from parsley.
This recipe is classically made with schmaltz (chicken fat), but I went with clarified butter instead, which added a similar richness. If you can find schmaltz, use it!
Like rice, as kasha cooks, it absorbs liquid and takes on whatever flavor you add. Here I used chicken broth instead of water to enhance the flavor, especially because I was using clarified butter instead of chicken fat. If you want to keep this dish vegetarian, vegetable broth is also a good option.
Something really interesting about this recipe is the use of egg, which coats the kasha before toasting. You might be tempted to leave this step out, but it’s crucial to ensuring that the kasha is chewy with separate grains, instead of mushy like porridge. Plus it bumps up the nutrition!
What is Kasha?
Kasha is toasted buckwheat groats.
What Does Kasha Taste Like?
It has a nutty flavor and chewy texture.
What is Kasha Varnishkes Served With?
This Jewish Russian dish is commonly served with brisket. However, I imagine it’s just as lovely paired with pot roast.
I served it along with roast chicken and steamed green beans for a warming Sunday dinner.
Inspiration for This Recipe
My take on Kasha Varnishkes was adapted (a little from here and a little from there) from the following sources:
More Hearty Winter Side Dish Recipes:
- Sweet and Savory Quinoa Pilaf with Cranberries, Roasted Butternut, and Toasted Almonds
- Roasted Acorn Squash
- Low Carb Instant Pot Green Bean Casserole
- Loaded Cheesy Potato Casserole
- Broccoli Stem Gratin
- Stovetop Cauliflower “Macaroni” and Cheese
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Kasha Varnishkes (Buckwheat Groats with Bowtie Pasta)
- Heat the clarified butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and starting to turn golden, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Mix the kasha and egg together in a medium bowl until well combined. Turn the heat on medium-high under the saucepan that the onion was cooked in. Add the kasha/egg mixture, spreading it in an even layer in the bottom of the saucepan, and toast until the kasha is dry and the grains can separate. Stir in the broth, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, and then cover and reduce the heat to simmer until the kasha is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente, and drain. (Reheat under hot running water if necessary before serving.)
- To serve, toss together the onion mixture with the hot kasha, pasta, and parsley.
- Instead of clarified butter, use schmaltz (chicken fat) for even more flavor.
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