Serves a Crowd

Kasha Varnishkes

April 18, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

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. Traditionally, the fat here is schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat. I used olive oil for its accessibility, but feel free to swap back, or even replace with butter. This recipe is an exercise in multitasking, but each one is easy-peasy. Reading through the steps a couple times before starting helps. —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
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/4 cups kasha (roasted buckwheat groats)
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 3 large yellow onions, chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 10 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thickly sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 pound bow-tie noodles (farfalle)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced or Microplaned
  • 3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Set a large pot of water over high heat. Add 1 1/2 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 until the kasha is just tender—we don't want it mushy—10 to 15 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve.
  3. Meanwhile, set a very large skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup olive oil. When it’s shimmery, add the onions. Season generously with salt, to taste, and 1 pinch black pepper. Sauté—stirring and lowering the heat as needed—until caramelized, about 40 minutes.
  4. While that's going, roast the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to a rimmed sheet pan. Dress with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, to taste, and 1 pinch pepper. Toss. Roast for about 30 minutes, until deeply browned.
  5. Set a large pot of water over high heat (save a dish and reuse that kasha pot!). Add 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, plus more to taste, until it's very salty. Bring to a boil. When the onions and mushrooms are almost done, add the pasta to the water. Cook until just al dente, about 8 minutes. Use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to the skillet with the onions—this way you reserve that pasta water.
  6. Add the mushrooms, kasha, and garlic to the skillet. Toss. Add a big splash of pasta water, to loosen everyone up, plus a generous pour of olive oil—and don't be shy with either. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste. Add most of the herbs and toss. Sprinkle the remaining ones on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dave Martin
    Dave Martin
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • Margey
    Margey
  • kateinmac
    kateinmac
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

9 Reviews

kateinmac April 29, 2018
Is it 1 1/4 cups kasha, cooked or 1 1/4 cups cooked kasha?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 30, 2018
1 1/4 cups kasha—directions for how to cook are in step 2, though use whatever cooking method you feel most comfortable with!
 
barbee13 October 22, 2019
That much salt is an invitation to high blood pressure, which could lead to a heart attack.
 
AD January 6, 2020
Emma says clearly "use whatever cooking method you feel most comfortable with". So don't use as much salt. Don't use any. Why bother commenting? You don't deserve to cook kasha.
 
Margey April 20, 2021
Most of it goes down the drain though. I've read that salting your water adequately means less salt required later down the track too. That said, only we can know our individual requirements. All recipes are just a guide to be taken with a grain of salt and altered as you please.
 
Dave M. March 18, 2018
When I make this, I give the groats the pilaf treatment: I mix all the kasha with one scrambled egg, then stir it on a dry skillet (on medium heat) until the groats separate (at that point, you can boil the kasha as above). Treating the kasha as a pilaf gives it a slightly more al dente texture, and you can't taste the egg at all. Oh, and one more thing; if you want to go old-school here, consider using schmaltz instead of olive oil -- it will make a difference.
 
Terry C. June 23, 2019
Won’t be vegetarian if you use schmaltz
 
Millie J. January 5, 2020
I wish I'd paid attention when my mother made kasha varnishkes; she probably also did the scrambling with an egg since that is the traditional recipe. I find that when I combine the kasha and egg in the pot, the egg sticks like crazy and is really tough to scrub off at the end no matter how assiduously I stir while it's cooking. The only thing that mitigates that is to have boiling water ready to pour into the pot the second the kasha groats seem to be separating. My mother undoubtedly used schmaltz, too. It must have been extra work for her, she didn't make it that often, but it was delicious.
 
beejay45 March 17, 2018
This sounds amazing? We ate kasha fairly often when I was a kid, but I'd never seen this dish. Guess that's what happens when you've got a bunch of Norwegian Lutherans in the family. ;) Happily, I just bought two 1 kilo bags of kasha, and I always have bowties...and mushrooms needing to be used now that I think about it. Perfect timing.