Photo Credit Ellen Silverman
Prep Cook Yield Ready In
12 20 serves 4 32 minutes

This Kasha Varnishkes Recipe Was Almost Lost in the Holocaust

A beloved dish "made the old-fashioned way" with lots of mushrooms.

In “Honey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors,” Tova Friedman writes, “My late husband’s favorite food was tzimmes, but he also shared his family’s recipe for kasha varnishkes. So from the time I had my own family and had children, we always used to prepare tzimmes and varnishkes. This is the “old-fashioned” way to make it: with lots of mushrooms.”

This hearty dish is perfect for the crisp fall months.

This recipe is reprinted with permission from “Honey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors.


  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup kasha (buckwheat groats)
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • salt
  • 1 cup bowtie (farfalle) pasta
  • 3 Tbsp butter or
  •  vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup soy sauce


  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and have it ready.
  2. Put the kasha in a medium bowl. Add the beaten egg to the dry kasha. Mix thoroughly so all the grains are uniformly coated.
  3. Heat a heavy-bottom 8-quart pot over medium-high heat until it is very hot. Add the kasha-egg mixture and stir continuously, breaking up clumps so that the kasha is very hot.
  4. Slowly pour the boiling water onto the hot kasha and add a pinch of salt. The kasha will explode and froth (this is the fun part).
  5. After all the water has been added and the pot settles down, skim any schmutz that might be floating on top. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
  6. While the kasha is cooking, prepare the bowtie pasta according to package instructions (cook in salted water for about 12 minutes).
  7. While bowties are cooking, heat the butter (or oil, if pareve) in a wide saucepan. Add the onion and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the mushrooms and then the garlic and cook until the mushrooms and onions are tender. Add the cooked kasha to the mushroom mixture, then add the soy sauce and toss gently to coat. Add the bowties just before serving.
  9. An alternative way of cooking this dish is to place the kasha mixture in a casserole dish and bake at 300°F for 20 minutes, or to desired dryness.
  10. When ready to serve, add bowties and mix. Serve hot.

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