the taste space

Kasha with Sauteed Mushrooms and Dill

Posted in Salads, Sides by Janet M on December 27, 2012

In a typical day, I try to eat a combination of vegetables, beans and whole grains. While steel cut oats are my typical breakfast, I will often add whole grains to some of my other meals.

There are many whole grains: brown rice, wheat berries, spelt berries, bulgur, oats, rye, barley, millet, kamut, and teff, oh my! Despite what the name may imply, buckwheat is in the same family as sorrel and rhubarb. It is not even a wheat. Buckwheat, quinoa (my favourite), amaranth and wild rice are considered pseudograins because they are seeds (not grains). They also happen to contain more protein than grains and are all gluten-free.

They all taste different. Not all of them will appeal to everyone.

Of all the grains/pseudograins, I think kasha gets the most haters. Kasha is simply toasted buckwheat, but seems to have an acquired taste.

When I first cooked it, I hated it too. I added too much water (1:3 ratio) and it became a literal soggy mess. It took me two years to try again. I tried a different strategy. Next, I baked it first, and cooked it in a 1:2 ratio which was 100x better. The cooked kernels were soft but some partially opened. When I included it in a multigrain oatmeal with quinoa, I liked it, too. So when Rob’s Mom offered me some kasha for breakfast, I didn’t hesitate. I hesitated when I saw what she was doing though. Instead of boiling kasha in water, she pulled out a funny-looking instant boil-in-a-bag Polish package. It made the most glorious kasha, though. Plump, yet firm, the kasha had a nice nutty flavour with a perfect texture. Rob’s mom gave us some to take home with us but when we stopped off at the Polish store on the way home, I found out it actually wasn’t any more expensive than when I buy it in bulk. I don’t know what that bag does, but it is magical.

When people say they don’t like an ingredient, I always think maybe they just haven’t met the right version yet. (I will even concede while I detest celery, you can get me to eat raw celery if you remove the strings and I will eat a soup with celery in the mirepoix; while I hate the flavour of coffee, I will eat something with mocha if it is a faint wisp within a chocolate dessert; and I like tarragon and fennel, when I don’t like licorice).

So, if you don’t think you like kasha, try this first. Amuse me. Then tell me what you think.

However, I will need to walk you through it… unless you know Polish. Without Rob, I knew I had to boil it for 15-20 minutes. Rob helped by telling me I had to salt the water and keep the pot covered as it simmered. After 15-20 minutes, you open the package and have lovely, fluffy kasha. Rinse in cold water before you open the package.

To flavour this dish, I adapted the recipe in Appetite for Reduction for Sauteed Kasha and Mushrooms with Dill, a pasta-less version of Kasha Varnishkes. The fluffy kasha is combined with sauteed mushrooms and onions. Lots of black pepper and dill make this dish flavourful, despite it looking so bland on paper.

The tricky part will be locating the boil-in-a-bag kasha. Go to your European grocer. For those in Toronto, you can find it at Euromax in Milton, Starsky’s in Mississauga and possibly Benna’s on Roncesvalles (I haven’t checked the latter myself). In Woodstock, you can buy it from this European Meat and Deli.

Does anyone have a way to make kasha taste like this without the package? Did I miss the cooking kasha 101 memo?

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s Herbs on Saturday.

Kasha with Sauteed Mushrooms and Dill
Adapted from Appetite for Reduction

100g packet of kasha (or 1/2 cup coarse kasha, picked over and rinsed, to be boiled with 1 cup vegetable broth or water)
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium-size onion,thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt, plus a pinch for the kasha pot
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper, lots of it (even I thought it was great!)
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill

1. For the boil-in-a-bag kasha, fill a medium pot half-way with salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and submerge the bag of kasha. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until plump and tender. Remove bag from water, rinse in cold water and set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stock skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil and onion and saute for 7-10 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Sprinkle with salt and stir. Add the mushrooms and fresh pepper. Saute until the mushrooms release their juices and are lightly browned, around 7-10 minutes. Stir in the cooked kasha (cut open the package) and sprinkle with the dill. Adjust the salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm.

Serves 2.

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21 Responses

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  1. Gabby @ the veggienook said, on December 27, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    I don’t think I’ve ever had kasha before! I’ve always done the raw buckwheat groats instead. Clearly I need to start hunting for this kasha in a bag because it sounds awesome!!

  2. Mackenzie R. said, on December 27, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    My family are Russian-Jews, so I grew up eating kasha all of the time… especially kasha varnishkes. My Bubbe would cook them in a pan with egg whites before boiling them (Wolff’s brand kasha has those instructions) and it makes them have a fluffy texture. Just whisk the uncooked kasha in a bowl with an egg white and put into a frying pan with a tiny bit of oil or butter. Cook, stirring, on medium heat until the kasha is dry and has soaked up the egg whites. Then just add to your boiling water and cook normally.

  3. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table said, on December 27, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    When I goat read this post title I thought it said Kashi. Like te cereal. Lol! Kasha sounds like something is like. I love any sort of grain/berry with a good chew!

  4. myredsandals said, on December 27, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Coming from a Jewish family with an Eastern European background, I grew up eating kasha (roasted buckwheat groats)…just as my father did and his father before him.

    Although I have a penchant for hot breakfast cereals of all types (i.e. oatmeal, Wheatina, wheat bran, grits), the truth is, on most mornings, I still sit down to a bowl of kasha. It has a nutty flavor, great texture, smells divine, offers 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving, and is very satisfying.

    While there are many ways to prepare kasha (see note at the bottom of my entry), perhaps the simplest and quickest one is as follows (1 serving):

    (1) In small pot, bring 1 cup water and a pinch of salt to a boil.
    (2) Add 1/2 cup kasha (I typically use Bob’s Red Mill Roasted Organic Kasha or Wollf’s Roasted Kasha in the “whole” granulation — do *not* use raw buckwheat groats).
    (3) Stir once, cover pot, reduce heat to lowest possible setting and leave totally alone for 10 minutes.
    (4) Remove lid. Move kasha to one side to see if any water remains in bottom of pot. If there is some, cover pot again and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
    (5) If not, fluff kasha with fork and serve immediately.

    NOTE: One of my favorite ways to eat kasha is to add some grilled onions and garlic right before serving, but for many more recipes on how to creatively use kasha in appetizers, breads, entrees, soups, salads and even desserts, go to Wollf’s website at http://wolffskasha.com/

  5. Joanne said, on December 27, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    I’ve never actually had kasha but it’s certainly on my to-try list! I’ve yet to meet a whole grain (or pseudograin) that I didn’t like!

    I will never ever like celery though.

  6. Hannah said, on December 27, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    Oh Janet, this looks incredible! So completely my type of dish. And, um, are any of those stores near the Distillery District?! I’m still trying to get my head around all the different areas of Toronto :P

    P.S. Merry, Merry Christmas to you, my dear new friend!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on December 28, 2012 at 7:17 PM

      Ooh, is that your new hood? Sounds awesome! Unfortunately I listed European grocers which are way more west… near Roncesvalles. We can share my current stash, though. :)

      • Hannah said, on January 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM

        Teehee, you’re lovely! In a week I’ll be moving next to Trinity Bellwoods Park?

  7. narf77 said, on December 28, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    This looks scrumptious…I have to agree with Hannah because the ingredient list is right up my alley…maybe it’s an Aussie thing? ;)

  8. lawstudentcook said, on December 28, 2012 at 3:52 AM

    I’ve never had kasha, but this makes me want to change that. This looks great.

  9. [...] Kasha with Sauteed Mushrooms and Dill by Janet at the Taste Space: “To flavour this dish, I adapted the recipe in Appetite for Reduction for Sauteed Kasha and Mushrooms with Dill, a pasta-less version of Kasha Varnishkes. The fluffy kasha is combined with sauteed mushrooms and onions. Lots of black pepper and dill make this dish flavourful, despite it looking so bland on paper.” [...]

  10. Deb in Hawaii said, on December 30, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    Hmm… I am going to have to look for that boil-in-the bag kind. The salad looks fabulous–love the combination of the mushroom and dill. ;-) Thanks for sharing with Souper Sundays!

  11. julia said, on December 31, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    I confess, I’m totally one of the kasha-haters. It’s the one grain I have never liked, and I live in an eastern European neighborhood where it’s abundant! There’s something about the fragrance/taste that’s much stronger than other grains (musty? plasticky?). In addition to searching for your kasha-in-bag, I think I will try to cook it with stronger flavors so that I’m not just tasting the kasha itself.

  12. [...] to me like there are constantly new things I’d like to try eating. Beyond new grains like kasha and kaniwa, or new heirloom beans, I will always scour new recipes. As I learned in Colombia, there [...]

  13. [...] Smoky Split Pea Soup (I preferred this soup) – Hottie Black Eyed Peas and Greens (recipe elsewhere) – Sauteed Kasha and Mushrooms with Dill – Chickpea Piccata – Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal – White Bean, Quinoa and Kale Stew with Fennel [...]

  14. […] last summer. Next went the wild rice. Now I am plowing through the kasha. Once I discovered the boil-in-a-bag stuff, I was smitten with it as a base for veggie-based […]


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