Kasha, in America, refers to roasted buckwheat groats. Buckwheat is a fruit, not a grain. It is wheat-free and gluten free, and has 80% of the protein quality of eggs, with none of the cholesterol or fat.

One day I decided to make kasha varnishkes for the boys in the Yeshiva. It took me a while to gather the materials and research the process. I can't make a mistake for 400 people. The day finally came when I was ready. All went well. I announced to the boys that this food was part of their cultural enrichment and if they didn't know what kasha was, people could doubt if they were Jewish. Everyone enjoyed it.

Then a new student approached me. "Chef Herschel, my favorite food is kasha."

"That's great," I replied.

"My mother would always make my favorite food on my birthday."

I was in a hurry and answered quickly. "She is a wonderful mom."

"Chef Herschel?" he said.

"Yes…"

"Today is my birthday." (True story!)

Enjoy!

 

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Classic Kasha Varnishkes

• 2 large onions, sliced
• 3 tbsps. margarine or chicken fat
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 1 cup kasha
• 2 cups bouillon
• salt and pepper to taste • 3/4 lb. bowtie noodles

Saute onions in 2 tbsps. margarine or chicken fat until golden. Remove to plates. Beat egg, stir in kasha. Mix to make sure all grains are coated. Put kasha in the same frying pan, set over high heat.

Stir and break up the egg-coated kasha with a spoon for 2-4 minutes, until egg is dry and kernels are brown and separated. Add bouillon, salt and pepper to pan. Bring to a boil.

Remove the cover, stir and check if the kernels are tender and liquid is absorbed. If not, cover and steam for 5 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook bowtie noodles. Drain. Combine kasha with noodles. Adjust seasonings.

Makes 6 servings.

 

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Kasha with Onions and Walnuts

• 1 cup kasha
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 2 cups boiling bouillon
• 3/4 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. black pepper
• 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped (checked for bugs)
• 1 1/2 tbsps. margarine
• 2 tbsps. oil
• 1 onion chopped
• 5 cloves garlic

Stir together kasha and egg. Cook in a dry, heavy saucepan over moderate heat, about 2 minutes. Add boiling bouillon, salt and pepper. Cover, cook over low heat until kasha is tender and most of the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Let stand covered 10 minutes.

While kasha cooks, toast walnuts in 1 tbsp. of margarine over moderate heat 5 minutes, then add oil and ½ tbsp. margarine to skillet and heat. Add onions and garlic until softened and brown. Stir kasha into onion with walnuts. Mix and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

 

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Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Sauce

• 1 cup cooked kasha
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
• 1 1/2 lbs. ground raw turkey
• 2 tbsps. cooking oil
• 1 cup chicken or turkey broth
• 1 tbsp. cornstarch
• 1 tbsp. lemon juice
• 1 small carrot, finely shredded
• 1 green onion, diced

Prepare kasha as previously described. Combine first 5 ingredients in mixing bowl; blend well. Shape into 12 balls. In larger skillet, heat oil and brown turkey on all sides. Add broth; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Use slotted spoon to transfer turkey to serving dish. Combine cornstarch and lemon juice. Combine with pan juices in skillet and cook until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Add carrot and onion. Pour sauce over turkey.

Makes 6 servings.

 

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Curried Chicken Salad

• 3 cups cooked kasha (coarse or whole)
• 2 cups diced cooked chicken
• 1 large red apple, diced
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 2 green onions, sliced
• 1/4 cup chopped celery
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped

HONEY CURRY VINAIGRETTE

• 2/3 cup oil • 1/4 cup vinegar • 2 tbsps. Honey • 2 tsps. curry powder

Prepare kasha as previously described. When kasha is cool, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients until smooth. Pour over salad and toss gently.

Makes 4-6 servings.

 

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Chinese Kasha Salad

• 3 cups cooked kasha (coarse or whole) • 1 cup shredded cabbage • 1 large carrot, shredded • 1/2 cup cooked green peas • 1/4 cup sliced almonds • 1 green onion, thinly sliced • 1/4 cup mushrooms

WARM CHINESE DRESSING

• ¼ cup oil
• 1 tbsp. soy sauce
• 1 tbsp. wine
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp. vinegar
• 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

Prepare kasha as previously described. When kasha is cool, combine salad ingredients in large bowl. In small saucepan, combine dressing ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. Pour hot dressing over salad; toss well.

Makes 6 servings.

 

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Greek Kasha

• 1 1/2 cups cooked kasha (coarse or whole)
• 1 can (16 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 6 ozs. grated yellow cheese
• 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
• 1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
• 2 green onions, sliced
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Fresh mint leaves

MINT DRESSING

• 3 tbsps. olive oil
• 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
• 1 clove garlic

Prepare kasha as previously described. Combine kasha, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber and green onions in a large salad bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad; toss gently. Season with pepper and garnish with mint leaves.

Makes 6 servings.