This post is part of Share Our Holiday Table, a seven-day, online progressive dinner series that we hope will encourage you to support and donate to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign during this critical holiday period. I’m honored to be one of more than 50 bloggers who are participating. If you’ve been following along, the dinner has been unfolding for the last week across 7 courses and in 4 tracks (Gourmet, Family-Friendly, Gluten Free and Vegetarian).
Today’s featured course is the Side Dish and I’m offering you one of my favorite Vegetarian dishes, Kasha Varnishkes. My mom used to make this as a side to pot roast and turkey, and I’ve been cooking it through my adult life, frequently as a main course.
You see, kasha is actually roasted buckwheat kernels and is one of the healthiest grain products out there. A complete protein on its own, high in fiber, yada yada yada, kasha can be used as a main dish, side dish, stuffing, and even as a delicious hot breakfast cereal. It’s also gluten-free, so if that’s an issue for you or someone you love, you can also prepare the following recipe without the pasta as a Kasha Pilaf.
This recipe will feed a crowd on your holiday table or buffet, and makes an attractive change – or addition to – the usual potato fare. If you have less than a crowd, you can easily make half the quantity.
Kasha Pilaf Varnishkes
(serves 8-10 as a side dish, 4-6 as a main course)
1 14 – 16 oz package Farfalle (Bowtie) pasta
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup carrots, split & sliced thin
1/2 cup celery, sliced thin
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
1-1/2 cups medium or coarse Kasha
1 large egg or egg white (optional – see Preparation)
2 Tbs canola oil or butter
3 cups vegetable broth (divided)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
If not using the egg, skip to the next step. If using the egg or egg white: Beat the egg or egg white until well-blended. Add the kasha and combine with a fork until the grains are coated well.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the kasha and stir while toasting, till the grains are mostly separate and you smell a pleasant, toasty aroma.
Add the vegetables and 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth, stir well, and saute until the vegetables soften slightly, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the remaining broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan tightly, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 8 minutes, or until the kasha is soft. Uncover, and cook an additional 3 – 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the kasha to dry out a bit.
Check the seasoning, and add the farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, tossing together until thoroughly combined. Serve hot.
You can find kasha in your regular grocery store in either the pasta/rice aisle or the ethnic foods, kosher products section. I’ve only ever seen Wolff’s brand, but feel free to use any other you may spot. It comes in Fine, Medium, or Coarse granulations. Only use the medium or coarse granulation for this recipe. The fine granulation is mostly for cereal and will turn out mushy.
A variety of liquids can be used to prepare this, including beef or chicken stock (although using these would render this no longer vegetarian), or even water.
The word “varnishkes” refers to the bow-tie pasta. No, I don’t know what it means.
As noted earlier, if you omit the pasta, this Kasha Pilaf is an excellent gluten-free choice, too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this special holiday post on behalf of Share Our Strength, and that you’ll visit the other participating blogs to see what they’re serving up for Share Our Holiday Table.
In fact, I hope you’ve enjoyed it enough to click on one of these links and make a donation to Share Our Strength and sign the No Kid Hungry Pledge. Approximately 17 million children right here in the United States go hungry because of lack of access to programs that can change that, and lack of access to healthy foods. A hungry child can’t learn.
Even though my husband and I have no kids, we recognize that today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. And can yank our Social Security in a heartbeat.
Will you join us in the No Kid Hungry Campaign?
Today’s side dishes in each track are brought to you by: