Whole Grains Month is coming to an end as are the Jewish High Holidays (next week). This is a time of year where traditional favourites have to make an appearance on the menu and up there on my family’s list are kasha varnishkes or kasha and bow ties.
Kasha or buckwheat, although it resembles and is prepared like a grain, is, in fact, a seed. It has no ties to wheat despite its name but is a member of the rhubarb family, making it a great choice for those following gluten-free diets.
When the seeds are roasted, the bran remains intact resulting in groats. Better known as kasha, these groats with their distinctive flavour, are a traditional offering in Eastern European and Russian cuisines
Kasha, ground to varying consistencies, has long been found in stores selling kosher products while unroasted groats are a relatively new addition to health and specialty food stores. Besides providing minerals like magnesium and manganese and noteworthy amounts of soluble fibre, buckwheat’s protein, like that of soy, also seems to provide a cholesterol-lowering kick. Add in the phytochemicals like flavonoids, flavones and phytosterols, and you have to wonder why it’s not trumpeted as a heart healthy food more often.
I have no idea how bow tie noodles became the pasta shape of choice for this Eastern European dish but it simply can’t be made with any other shape. That being said, I have not yet come across whole grain bow ties so I do use those made from white flour. I also have not seen gluten-free bow tie noodles so to make this dish gluten-free, go for a short pasta.
The slow cooked onions (and their heart health perks) make this dish irresistible. The key to maximizing the flavour is to add half the onions while the kasha is cooking and then stir in the remainder just before removing the mixture from the stove.
Makes 6 servings
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup whole kasha
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups uncooked bow tie pasta (or other shape if gluten-free)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Prepare a large skillet by spraying with vegetable oil cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix together kasha and egg. Add kasha-egg mixture and stir medium –high heat for one minute. Remove from pan into a clean bowl and set aside.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium and continue to cook onions another 10 minutes. Remove about half the onions to a plate and set aside. Add kasha, salt and broth and stir to mix. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low; cook, covered until broth is absorbed, about 18 – 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook bow-tie pasta according to package directions; drain; Toss bow ties noodles and remaining onions to kasha mixture; season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving
• Calories: 257
• Protein: 10 grams
• Fat: 7 grams
• Saturated fat: 1 gram
• Carbohydrate: 41 grams
• Dietary fibre: 4 grams
• Sodium: 325 milligrams