Kasha with Onions and Mushrooms
Kasha, onions, mushrooms: Perfect expat Jewish food. Mine is a super modern and healthy take on an Old World Classic.
Not Love at First Bite
Good Sephardi that I am, it took me quite some time to love the decidedly acquired foreign taste of kasha. I found its vaguely officinal overtones somewhat objectionable. That was then. Now I just couldn’t be without it. I have it for hot cereal breakfast (cream of buckwheat, or fine granulation buckwheat), throw it in soups and salads, and even use the flour in cookies and crepes: Besides hearty and delicious, it is a real powerhouse!
Kasha, known to much of the world as buckwheat, is a staple in many Eastern European countries. Toasting the kasha before cooking it gives it a delicious nutty taste, and rolling it in beaten egg keeps every kernel separated and plump. Do not skip either of these very quick steps, or you will get mush.
Experiment With Other Grains!
Simply adjust the amount of liquid to the grain you are using: quinoa, millet, lentils, rice, etc. In this case, skip the step where you toast the grain and roll it in egg: Only buckwheat requires it (just to be clear: other grains: no toasting, no coating in egg).
Kasha With and Sans Varnishkes
I make my kasha with onions and mushrooms sans varnishkes (the cuter small bow tie noodles) as I want to keep the dish whole grain and no pasta for a change, loaded with the good starch, and free of gluten. But if you are faithful to the kasha varnishkes classic, by all means throw in a handful cooked tiny bow ties. The dish should be dominated by the grain. Lots of grain, a handful of bow ties just for garnish, not the other way around, as we so often encounter it.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound domestic mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cups kasha (buckwheat groats), whole granulation
- 1 egg , or two egg whites
- 5 cups boiling water
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pot and sauté the mushrooms until all the liquid evaporates. Reserve. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and cook the onions over medium heat until very dark, about 20 minutes. Reserve.
Place the kasha in the pot over medium heat and toast until fragrant and lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and stir quickly until the grains are uniformly coated, about 1 minute more. Add the boiling water, turmeric, salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to medium and cook covered for about 15 minutes, until the grain is tender. Add the reserved mushrooms and onions and stir. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until heated through. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings.
Variations: quinoa or rice with chestnuts
- Omit the mushrooms and add about 10 ounces of vacuum-packed chestnuts, crumbled, in the last few minutes of cooking.
- Make a whole main course out of it by throwing in some cooked chicken, good quality crumbled sausage, crumbled pastrami or smoked turkey.
- Optional: throw in about ½ cup dried cranberries together with the chestnuts, and stir in ½ cup toasted nuts just before serving.