Happy Food Revolution Day, TLT’ers!
Food Revolution Day is an annual event created by the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation to promote food literacy and cooking education. This year’s goal is to bring compulsory food education to schools in the G20 countries, and a related Change.org petition started by Jamie Oliver currently has over one million signatures. (Please consider adding your name here.)
Meanwhile, the folks over at the Family Dinner Project decided to commemorate Food Revolution Day by asking people to teach a meaningful recipe to someone else and then share the experience using the #FamilyDinnerForward hashtag. So that’s just what I did.
For a while now, Mr. TLT has been asking me to make kasha varnishkes, a side dish of kasha (buckwheat groats) and bow tie pasta that’s part of our Eastern European Jewish heritage. In honor of #FamilyDinnerForward, I asked my daughter to make a vegetarian version with me. And here we are, gearing up for the cooking:
Before we begin, two caveats. First, kasha is one of those distinctively flavored foods that people either love or hate, but I hope you’ll try it if you’ve never had it before. Second, please forgive my horrible cell-phone food photography — someday I really will learn how to take decent food photos, I promise.
OK, let’s begin. To make kasha, you first coat the buckwheat groats in beaten egg and then cook them. This creates a coating on each grain that keeps the dish from becoming mushy:
Next you add steaming hot broth (usually chicken broth but, in this case, vegetable broth), cover and simmer until the kasha is tender.
To recreate the richness of the chicken fat that’s traditionally used in the dish, my daughter and I added a serious amount of slowly caramelized onions. Unfortunately, I forgot to take an actual photo of the cooked onions – doh! – but here we are getting ready to caramelize them:
When the onions are done, add them to the kasha along with the cooked bow tie noodles, salt, pepper and a little chopped parsley for color. The delicious result:
For those interested in making this dish at home, here’s our recipe:
The Lunch Tray’s Vegetarian Kasha Varnishkes
- 1 cup buckwheat groats (such as Wolff’s brand), coarse granulation
- 1 egg
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- olive oil
- 1.5 – 2 large onions, sliced
- cooked bow tie pasta (about 1/4 of a box)
- chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
- Put broth in a sauce pan and begin to heat it to a boil.
- Beat egg in a bowl, add groats and stir to coat well.
- Sauté the egg-coated kasha in a large pan (one that has a lid) over medium-high heat until it’s completely dry. This just takes a minute or two.
- Carefully pour the hot broth over the kasha (it will spatter), stir well, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
- While the kasha is cooking (and for some time afterward), sauté the onions in olive oil over medium-low heat until quite soft and golden brown.
- Combine kasha, caramelized onions, cooked pasta and parsley in a bowl, stir and season to taste with a generous amount of salt and pepper. If it seems a bit dry, you can stir in a little more olive oil.
Enjoy! And thanks to the Family Dinner Project for inspiring me and my daughter to get into the kitchen together.
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