Buckwheat is my favorite whole grain. Despite the fact that it has the word “wheat” in it, buckwheat is gluten-free. Buckwheat is actually the seed from a flowering plant (related to rhubarb), and therefore many consider it a pseudo-cereal (just like quinoa is) rather than a true cereal grain (such as rice or oats).

buckwheat-vs-kasha-2Most people who think of cooking with buckwheat think of popular dishes such as buckwheat pancakes, buckwheat crepes, or buckwheat (soba) noodles. However, I grew up eating buckwheat as kasha, the toasted form of buckwheat, in dishes such as kasha knishes and kasha varnishkes.  Whereas buckwheat has a milder flavor and a light brown-green color, the toasted variety (kasha) has a deep and nutty flavor and a darker brown color.

A few weeks ago, I had dinner at my mom’s house and she made a bow-tie pasta for the kids. I had never seen a gluten free pasta shaped like bow-ties before and it immediately brought me back to my childhood and the kasha varnishkes  I used to love! Kasha varnishkes is a traditional Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish dish that combines kasha (toasted buckwheat groats) with noodles, typically farfalle bow-tie pasta.

So, with the help of my mom, at (almost!) 40-yrs old, I now know how to make one of my favorite childhood comfort foods. It is simple yet flavorful—and a perfect side dish for fall.

Kasha Varnishkesdsc_0015-002
by Judy Gass & Debbie Steinbock

2-3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
½ tsp. sea salt
½ of a large onion, minced
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat)
2 cups chicken broth
8-10 ounces gluten-free farfalle (bow-tie noodles)


  1. Boil a large pot of water and cook the noodles until al dente. Strain, rinse, and set aside. You may choose to add a Tbsp. of olive oil to the noodles to prevent clumping after cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick pan over medium heat, sauté the minced onion in approximately 2 Tbsp. olive oil until it becomes translucent.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms and salt to the onions and cook about 3-5 more minutes, until the mushrooms have cooked down and the onion has browned.
  4. Add the dry kasha to the onion/mushroom mixture, and gently stir everything together and cook for another minute.
  5. Lastly, add the chicken broth to the pan, cover, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down and let it all simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until all the broth is absorbed and the kasha is soft and fluffy.
  6. Transfer the kasha/onion/mushroom mixture to a large bowl and combine with the bow tie noodles.
  7. Serve warm.

About Debbie Steinbock, HHC

After years of being told that she had an "incurable" chronic health condition, Debbie turned to her diet to help her understand her disease, restore her body, and regain control of her health. Her personal journey has given her the knowledge and compassion necessary to help her clients take an active role in their own healing. Since starting her practice in 2000, Debbie has successfully helped hundreds of people across the country to improve their diet, enhance their current state of health, and eliminate a variety of health conditions.

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