This is a traditional recipe for Jewish kasha varnishkes made with sautéed onions, cooked bowtie pasta and buckwheat groats or kasha.
When I make this dish, I always cook more kasha than I'll need so I can make kasha croquettes (cooked kasha mixed with finely chopped onion, an egg and fine bread crumbs) that I bake for 40 minutes until crunchy all over. They're great with mushroom sauce.
- 4 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or oil or margarine
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced into rounds
- 4 ounces uncooked bow tie pasta (or more if you like more noodles)
- 2 cups chicken stock or salted water for a vegetarian dish
- 1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)
- 1 large lightly beaten room-temperature egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt schmaltz in a large skillet and add onions. Sauté over medium-low, stirring frequently until onions are turning brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove onions to a bowl and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook bowtie pasta in 2 cups chicken stock or salted water until al dente or done to your liking. Drain, reserving liquid and set aside.
- Also meanwhile, mix uncooked kasha with beaten egg, coating well. Warm a medium skillet that has a lid and turn kasha into the pan, patting down flat. Cook, stirring often until kasha has separated into individual grains.
- Deglaze the pan you cooked onion in with the reserved chicken stock or pasta cooking water and pour hot stock into pan with kasha, bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until tender, 20 to 40 minutes. Toward the end of cooking, set cover slightly askew to allow any liquid to fully evaporate.
- In a large saucepan, combine onions, pasta, and kasha, mixing well. Season to taste. Reheat and serve.
A Little More about Kasha
Kasha to Ashkenazic or Eastern European and American Jews means toasted buckwheat groats, but to Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and others, kasha can mean any number of grains, including millet, barley, oats, buckwheat and others.
Jewish kasha varnishkes has unlimited potential -- mix it with mushrooms or mandarin oranges and raisins as in this recipe for kasha stuffing where it is used as a stuffing but also can be served as a cold salad.
Experiment a little, because the sky's the limit. This is such a soul-warming comfort dish (and tastier than those uninitiated might imagine), it's perfect for fall and winter.
Where Does the Word Varnishkes Come From?
The name varnishkes is said to have come from the Ukrainian word vareniki, which today is a filled dumpling along the lines of Jewish kreplach or Polish pierogi (pierogen in Yiddish), but was originally a rectangular noodle in Ukraine. And, indeed, that's what bowtie pasta is -- rectangles of dough pinched in the middle.