Friday, September 7, 2007

Kasha Varnishkes

Here is a fantastic side-dish that has the added benefit (?) of smelling like every Jewish home I visited as a kid. It also uses buckwheat groats (when cooked, called kasha), which is a nutritional and agricultural powerhouse. Like quinoa, buckwheat is a seed rather than a grain, and contains tons of high-quality protein and many vitamins and minerals (and if you go by the articles about it, cures and prevents nearly every ill). Buckwheat is a great cover-crop for farmers and it grow very quickly.

The recipe calls for bow-tie noodles, which--face it--are just plain fun. It goes really well with roasted chicken. This is modified from The Art of Jewish Cooking by Jennie Grossinger:

  • 1/2 box of bow-tie noodles, cooked in salted water
  • 1/3 c. butter or schmaltz
  • 1 large onion, diced or sliced finely
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 c. roasted buckwheat groats, whole or cut
  • 2 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
First, cook your noodles. Heat up a large pot and begin caramelizing the onion pieces in the butter or schmaltz in it.

In a separate sauce pan with a tight-fitting lid, stir the groats and beaten egg over low heat until the grains separate (I'm still not sure what this means, but it's what the recipe says. I just stir them until the egg is cooked and dry). Add the boiling water and salt and cover the pot (heat still on low) for 15 min. If there is extra liquid, pour it off. Now you have a pot full of kasha.

When your onions are caramelized, add the thyme and black pepper, then stir in the cooked noodles and kasha. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. You can also stir in grebenes (rendered chicken skin and onions; mom cooks it with chicken liver). Tonight we had this with a grocery store roast chicken and salad and it was the perfect combo. It also didn't heat the kitchen up too badly--it was in the mid-90s today and it's still in the upper 70s at a quarter past 11. Sweatin' here, boss.

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