Kasha Varnishkes-A Modernized Classic

  • 2 cups bowtie pasta
  • 1/2 oz dry porcini mushrooms (Don’t skip this ingredient)
  • 1/2 cup schmaltz or extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 1 large yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 large leek (sliced thinly)
  • 1/2 lb cremini or button mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup kasha (preferably coarse)
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
  1. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, in a small bowl soak porcini mushrooms in 3/4 cup of warm water for 10 minutes until softened. Drain mushrooms, retaining the soaking water. Mince mushrooms and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 1/4 cup of schmaltz or oil. Add onions, leek, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Saute until well-browned.
  4. Add porcini mushrooms and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant and has softened. Add kasha, pepper, and thyme sprigs and cook for 3-5 minutes to toast the kasha. Stir in stock, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add cooked pasta to the pan and stir together. Garnish with parsley.

Chef Laura says this is the perfect autumnal side dish for pre-Yom Kippur or break fast. It’s also great as a choice for a Sukkot meal.

Kasha is an earthly and fiber-filled grain. It is one of the oldest known food staples in Eastern European cuisine. Also known as buckwheat groats, kasha is popular with descendants of Ashkenazi and Yiddish-speaking Jews form Eastern Europe and Russia.

Booking groats with rich porcini mushrooms and fresh herbs updates the classic dish by adding deep, earthy flavor from mushrooms and by substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock. Everyone, including vegetarians will enjoy this rendition of European comfort food.