Kasha Varnishkes with fresh herbs, mushrooms and peas

???????????????????????????????Kasha Varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of kasha and farfelle (buckwheat groats and bow tie pasta). I dressed up my mom’s recipe with fresh herbs, mushrooms and freshly shelled peas.

toasting kasha

toasting kasha

Did you know that buckwheat is gluten-free because it is a fruit? Kasha is the roasted buckwheat seed (groat). Buckwheat has many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, and cholesterol, is low-glycemic, and is a good source of protein and magnesium.

Did you know that even though farfelle is called bow tie pasta, it is named for farfella, which means butterfly in Italian!

Ingredients:

1 large pot of salted water

8 oz farfelle (bow-tie pasta)

1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

1 egg

1 Tb olive oil

1 small onion

1 ½ cups mushroom

1 tsp minced rosemary

¼ tsp minced thyme

¼ tsp dill weed

2 1/4 cups Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. If you want to use prepared broth, salt the kasha to taste.

½ – 1 tsp salt to taste, depending on saltiness of the broth.

A few shakes or grinds of black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tsp lemon juice

2 cups shelled English peas (you can substitute frozen peas)

1 Tb chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling

Heat broth to boiling in a heavy, medium saucepan.

While you are heating the liquids, prepare the kasha:

Sauté onion in olive oil over low heat about 10 minutes until soft,

While the onion is cooking, mix kasha with a beaten egg in a bowl until the kasha is coated. Toast kasha in a dry non-stick frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains separate.

???????????????????????????????Add mushrooms to onions, cover and cook another 3 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften. Stir in herbs and cook another minute, then add the toasted kasha.

Pour hot broth into kasha mixture. Add bay leaf, lemon juice and pepper.  Salt it to taste. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 12 minutes until most liquid is absorbed. Stir in fresh peas in the last 7 minutes. If you choose to use frozen peas, stir them in at the last 4 minutes.

While kasha is cooking, cook pasta for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain and Stir into cooked kasha. Extra broth from the kasha will act as gravy. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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Matzo Meal Chicken

This was one of my favorite dishes my mom made when I was a kid. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t tweak it! I added sesame seeds to the matzo meal and used olive oil spray instead of drizzling margarine on the chicken as she did. This recipe calls for boneless, skinless breasts, but you can make it with a cut-up  chicken as my mom did. It will just take longer to cook.

Preheat oven to 375◦

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 eggs

2/3 cup of matzo meal

1/4 cup plus a few spoonfuls sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon garlic salt

several grinds pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Olive oil spray

Combine dry ingredients in a shallow bowl

Beat the eggs well in a small bowl

Line a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides) with foil. Place a rectangular rack (such as a cookie cooling rack) in it (it should just fit). Spray it with nonstick spray.

Rinse the chicken breasts and trim any excess fat.

Dip each breast in the egg

and then roll it in the matzo meal-sesame mixture until it is well coated.

(You may have to wash your hands a few times in between chicken pieces; this gets messy!)

Spray one side with olive oil spray, and then place that side down on the oiled rack. Spray the other side with the olive oil spray. Repeat for all breasts, spacing them so there is some room between them.

Bake in the oven until browned, about 1/2 an hour, then flip over. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of sesame seeds on top if some of the coating has fallen off, and bake until the other side is browned.