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Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha Varnishkes 6.000

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Sep 17, 2021

Kasha varnishkes is a staple in Eastern European Jewish cooking, and for a good reason: The dish’s inexpensive ingredients are flavorful, filling and flexible enough to work with vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free eating preferences (for the latter, use quinoa in place of pasta). Mushrooms are not always present in the dish, but they add umami. The dish freezes well, so if you double the amounts below and squirrel away half for when you’re too busy to cook, your future self will be grateful.

Total time: 1 hour

Storage Notes: Leftover kasha varnishkes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month. See NOTES for reheating instructions.

6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings; makes generous 10 cups

  • 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons schmaltz (chicken fat), divided (may substitute duck fat, olive oil, neutral oil or unsalted butter, see NOTES)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt or fine sea salt, divided, plus more for cooking the pasta
  • 1 cup (7 1/4 ounces) uncooked buckwheat groats
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces bowtie pasta (farfalle)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium-to-large yellow onions (20 to 24 ounces total), halved and thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces fresh mushrooms, such as button or baby bella, stemmed, halved through the cap and sliced (See NOTES)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for serving (optional)
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving

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Fill a large pot with generously salted water and bring to a boil over high heat.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the broth or water, 2 tablespoons of schmaltz and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.

While the water and broth come to a boil, in a large wide saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the buckwheat with the egg until combined. The buckwheat will clump together, but that’s okay. Cook, stirring constantly, until the buckwheat starts to smell nutty and separates into individual groats, about 6 minutes. Add the hot broth or water (from the small saucepan) and season with 1/4 teaspoon of pepper; stir to combine.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and let the buckwheat simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the groats are plump but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover and fluff with a fork, and re-cover.

Once the water in the large pot comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pot; drizzle with the oil and toss to coat the noodles to keep the pasta from sticking together.

In a large wide saucepan or skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of schmaltz. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent the onions from burning (see NOTES). Add the mushrooms, season lightly with the remaining salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms give off most of their liquid and the onions turn darker, about 10 minutes. Taste, and season with additional salt and/or pepper, if desired. Transfer the mushroom-onion mixture to the pot with the pasta.

Add the cooked buckwheat to the pot, followed by the dill, if using, and toss to combine. Transfer to a large serving bowl, garnish with the parsley and serve right away (see NOTES).


If you observe kashrut laws, and are serving meat with the meal, opt for schmaltz, duck fat or oil — not butter — to make the dish.

Don’t toss your mushroom stems. Save them, instead, for Vedge Mushroom Stock or Scrappy Vegetable Stock (see related recipes).

To caramelize onions, continue to cook them longer, stirring occasionally to prevent burning or sticking, until they reach a desired color; it helps to push the onions into the center of the pan to prevent burning. If the pan starts to look dry, add a splash of water and stir to incorporate.

To reheat kasha varnishkes, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees. Transfer the kasha to a 3-quart baking dish and pour 1/2 cup of chicken stock or water on top. Cover with foil or a tightfitting lid and bake for about 30 minutes. Uncover, and if the mixture looks dry, add more liquid, up to 1/2 cup. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the noodles on the top start to crisp up and brown. Serve hot or warm. Alternatively, reheat gently in a skillet over medium-low to medium heat with a drizzle of oil until the pasta and buckwheat crisp up.

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Recipe Source

From food writer Olga Massov.

Tested by Olga Massov.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (1 1/4 cup, using vegetable oil): 409

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 22g 34%

Saturated Fat: 2g 10%

Cholesterol: 23mg 8%

Sodium: 497mg 21%

Total Carbohydrates: 49g 16%

Dietary Fiber: 5g 20%

Sugar: 5g

Protein: 10g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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