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The Birkett Mills

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Side Dishes: Kasha Varnishkas

A Classic with kasha.
Serves: 4 servings
1 cup uncooked kasha
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
Optional seasonings and/or "extras" of your choice

In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté onions and mushrooms. Prepare kasha according to basic directions on package, adding the sautéed vegetables when the liquid is added and eliminating any additional butter or margarine. Before serving, fluff kasha with a fork and sprinkle with parsley.

Serving Suggestions:
The traditional Eastern European manner for serving varnishkas is as an accompaniment to beef brisket – along with lots of gravy or meat juices. Contemporary cooks may prefer to skip the gravy and pair this healthful and satisfying combo with turkey or lamb kebobs, veal loin, grilled swordfish, roasted chicken or boneless duck breasts. Vegetarians who pay attention to complementary proteins can be assured that varnishkas make an appropriate and nutritious meatless entree.

Amounts of mushrooms, onions and pasta bows can be increased, if desired. Shiitake or porcini mushrooms (fresh or dried) intensify the flavor. Instead of butter, some cooks use a combination of butter and walnut or hazelnut oil to sauté mushrooms and onions.

Seasoning options:
Fresh or dried herbs, such as thyme, oregano or chervil. Garlic.

Do your own thing:
Vary this basic pilaf to suit your tastes and the menu. Veggie variations: shallots, garlic, celery, carrots, peas, sweet peppers, kohlrabi. Favorite Fruits: apples, pears, currants, dried apricots, cherries, fresh or dried cranberries. Other options: herbs-thyme, rosemary, oregano, chervil, lovage, toasted pecans or almonds.