Kasha varnishkes is a delicacy beloved by East European Jews the world over. Join Irene Kronhill Pletka, a POLIN Museum Distinguished Benefactor, and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, co-owner of Gefilteria, as they prepare kasha varnishkes as it was made in Lublin. Following a recipe from Irene’s aunt, they will demonstrate the process step by step, using natural ingredients and traditional methods. Irene will share her memories of this dish and personal stories about her connection to Poland.

Watch the video and learn how to prepare delicious kasha varnishkes!

Ingredients: 
 
  • Home made or store bought ready to bake pasta. 6-8 sheets depending on how big your baking dish is. You can also use bow tie pasta.
  • 1 lbs. mushrooms:
    Wild/forest mushrooms *optional​*
    Store bought mushrooms of your choice
  • 3-5 large onions
  • 1 & 1/4 cups of unroasted kasha/buckwheat *Irene says roasting your kasha creates the perfect taste!
  • 4 tbsps of fat (Duck/goose) | Vegetarian option: vegetable, grapeseed, rice, or corn oil 
    Some of it will be used to sauté the onions, and the rest will be used to grease your baking pan
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Other herbs *optional*
  • 1/4 cup of chicken broth
Irene's pasta recipe ingredients:
"I make my pasta with 2 cups of flour and three eggs, and sometimes a dash of water if needed. Pasta should be rolled to the thinnest level available on a machine or if you roll by hand, the best that you can do." – Irene Pletka.
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Preparation:
  1. Prepare your pasta either from scratch or what is recommended on the box.
  2. While pasta is cooking, take your selection of mushrooms and thinly slice them. Irene recommends to make a lot. Set your mushrooms aside.
  3. Next take your onions and finely chop them. Set them aside. 
  4. Once your pasta is finished cooking, drain the noodles, and set them aside.
  5. Preparing the Kasha: If you plan on roasting your kasha (which is preferred), take your kasha and place it in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 mins at 350 degrees or until you can smell a 'nutty' aroma. Once the kasha has finished baking, take it out of the oven, and allow it to cool a bit. 
    If you plan on using kasha from the box, follow the recipe. 
  6. Take 2 onions and sauté them in the 'fat' until they are golden brown. Next add in your mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Stir in your parsley. Stir for a few moments so that everything has been fully mixed. Turn off the heat, and let the mixture sit and cool a bit. 
  7. In a separate frying pan sauté an onion in fat until translucent, and then add the kasha. Mix thoroughly as though making a risotto. 
  8. Add the chicken broth slowly by the ladleful until the kasha is 'al dente,' and all the liquid is absorbed. Allow to cool.
  9. Prepare a baking dish, a large rectangular Pyrex dish is perfect, but others will also do. Grease the pan with the remaining fat
  10.  Lay down one layer of pasta, then a layer of mushroom mix (mushrooms, parsley, and onion), then pasta, then the kasha mix, then pasta until you get to the top of the dish ending with pasta.
  11. Pour in enough broth to come up 1/3 of the way up the side of the pan. Covered the dish tightly with tinfoil, and place in a hot oven for about 40 minutes and test. If the pasta is not fully cooked add some more liquid and return it covered to the oven. Check every 10 minutes to see if it’s done. 
  12. When it is cooked take off the foil and return to the oven until the edges of the top pasta are crispy and brown. Once finished, take out of the oven and let cool on the counter for about 15 minutes. Then cut into squares with a sharp knife and serve. 
Irene says, "Try your own variations as well, although this is the way I remember it. Enjoy!"

 

Irene Kronhill Pletka was born in Shanghai. Thanks to a Sugihara visa, her parents, Jakob and Lilka Kronzylberg, both Polish citizens, were able to flee Vilna in January 1941 and cross Russia to Japan and then Shanghai. The family moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1946. Educated in Melbourne, she later studied and lived in London and Boston, earning degrees in psychology and fine arts. She settled in Manhattan in the 1990s.

She is committed to the vitality of secular Jewish culture and the Yiddish language.  She founded and is Director of The Kronhill Pletka Foundation, which is dedicated to the memory of her parents. The foundation supports Jewish cultural, educational, and social justice projects around the world. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and Center for Jewish History and a supporter of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which helped her family and so many others during our darkest hours. She is a Distinguished Benefactor of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, where the reconstruction of timber-frame roof, painted ceiling, and bimah of the Gwoździec wooden synagogue were made possible by her generosity and that of her foundation.

Jeffrey Yoskowitz is a Jewish food pioneer based in New York based and leader in plant-forward dining. A fermenter, writer, and cookbook author, he has been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The New Republic, among others. Jeffrey co-authored The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods, a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award .. As Papaya founder and Chief Culinary Officer, Jeffrey is building a robust platform for plant-forward dining. As Gefilteria founder and Chief Pickler, he produces culinary events, presents cooking demos around the world, and manufactures a category-defining gefilte fish. He was named to both the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Food & Wine and to the Forward's list of 50 most influential Jews, and has been a guest chef at the esteemed James Beard Foundation on numerous occasions.

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