This is Jewish comfort food at its finest—carbs on carbs!—with toasty buckwheat and bow-tie noodles. Onions, mushrooms, and herbs provide just enough veg and greenery to call this a one-dish dinner. This recipe is an exercise in multitasking, but each one is easy-peasy. Reading through the steps a couple times before starting helps.
If my family’s rendition of a classic kasha varnishkes recipe is untraditional, my own is even less so—streamlined in places, stretched in others. Here's what I did:
Extra-virgin olive oil instead of schmaltz. Because it’s what I always have on hand. Of course, if chicken fat just happens to be nearby, yes please. You could do butter, too, or some combination of the three.
A new way to kasha. Kash varn recipes often coat the buckwheat in beaten egg or egg white, to encourage separation and fluff, then cook 1 part grains to 2 parts water, much like rice. I wanted to streamline this—also, produce more consistent results. Sometimes the absorption method worked for me. Other times, mushy gloop. Martha Rose Shulman talked about her own similarly “tenuous relationship” with kasha for The New York Times. Her solution: cracked buckwheat, almost like bulgur (the only catch, this is tougher to find). My solution: boiling the grains in a large volume of salty water, like pasta. Healthyish cookbook author Lindsay Maitland Hunt wrote all about this game-changing technique for us just a couple months ago. It works wonders here.
Roast those mushrooms. If we’re caramelizing the onions on the stove, why not just add the mushrooms to that pan? A couple thoughts: If we’re caramelizing the onions, then sautéing the mushrooms, all in the same pan, that’ll take longer. We also don’t want to crowd the mushrooms. By roasting, these two components can work simultaneously. Plus, the mushrooms can spread out and do their thing, becoming deeply browned and flavorful.
Add salty, starchy pasta water at the end. This Italian pasta trick is especially welcome here, where there isn’t much else going on besides your chosen fat. The pasta water helps create a pseudo-sauce, for the noodles and kasha and onions and mushrooms to drink up, then have a good time. You will, too. —Emma Laperruque
Test Kitchen Notes
Featured In: My Grandma's Second Husband's Favorite Pasta —The Editors
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Serves 6
kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed
1 1/4 cups
kasha (roasted buckwheat groats)
extra-virgin olive oil (or schmaltz or butter), divided, plus more as needed
large yellow onions, chopped (about 6 cups)
freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
baby bella mushrooms, thickly sliced (about 3½ cups)
bow-tie noodles (farfalle)
large garlic cloves, finely chopped or Microplaned
chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Heat the oven to 375° F.
- Set a large pot of water over high heat. Add 1½ tablespoons salt, plus more to taste, until it's very salty. Bring to a boil. Add the kasha and adjust the heat to establish a steady boil. (The method here is exactly like pasta.) Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the kasha is just tender—we don't want it mushy. Use a slotted spoon or fine-mesh sieve to transfer the kasha to a bowl. Keep the water warm on the stove.
- Meanwhile, heat a very large skillet over medium heat. Pour in ¼ cup of the oil. When it’s shimmery, add the onions; season generously with salt and 1 pinch black pepper. Cook, stirring and lowering the heat as needed, for about 40 minutes, until caramelized.
- While that's going, roast the mushrooms. On a rimmed sheet pan, arrange the mushrooms. Drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of the oil; season with salt and 1 pinch of pepper. Toss to combine. Roast for about 30 minutes, until deeply browned.
- Return the pot of water to a boil. When the onions and mushrooms are almost done, add the pasta to the water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until just al dente. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the pasta to the skillet with the onions—this way you reserve that pasta water.
- Add the mushrooms, kasha, and garlic to the skillet and toss to combine. Add a big splash of pasta water to loosen everyone up, plus a generous pour of oil—and don't be shy with either. Season with salt and pepper. Add most of the herbs and toss to combine. Sprinkle the remaining herbs on top.