Sweet Breakfast Kasha
I was so excited when I finally got my non-Jewish husband to like a kasha dish. Surprisingly, it was not kasha varnishkes—a classic kasha dish with noodles and gravy. It was my homey, simple, somewhat healthier than oatmeal sweet breakfast bowl.
Kasha means "grain" in Russian, but it typically refers to toasted buckwheat groats. Strangely enough, buckwheat is actual a bud from the rhubarb family and not a grain at all! It is gluten free and high in protein and fiber, but it hasn't really caught on like quinoa or chia seeds in the hipster health food scene. And I get it—it has a strong flavor and smell, one that might be off-putting to people who didn't grow up eating it...a bit like durian fruit. Honestly they kind of have a similar musky flavor to each other. My husband always knows when I am cooking it (from his office, with the door closed). So when I got him to eat a bowl of kasha and enjoy it, I was thrilled. This whole Jewish-gentile marriage thing is really working out. And of course I posted to my facebook...and then the major shock came.
My brother doesn't like kasha! My great-aunt doesn't like it either! I was shocked that people from my own family could dislike this quintessential Ashkenazi food.
But love it or hate it, kasha is definitely worth a try. It is easy and healthy. This preparation is vegetarian and could easily be made vegan. If you don't like kasha savory, maybe you will like it sweet. And if you do like it savory, you will probably like it sweet too.
This is more a general way for preparing your kasha than a precise recipe. Try to get your kasha from a Russian market, as this is the highest quality kind. If you can only find regular buckwheat groats, you will need to dry roast them in a pan for a few minutes to get the proper taste. This recipe makes 2-3 hearty breakfast bowls. The version shown above is garnished with smetana (Russian sour cream), honey, dried cherries, and chopped apple.
1 cup dry kasha
one pat of butter (or Earth Balance for vegan version)
dash of salt
honey, to taste (or other sweetener such as maple syrup for a vegan option)
chopped fresh fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, figs, plums
dried fruits, such as raisins, dates, cherries, cranberries, prunes
smetana, sour cream, creme fraiche, Greek yogurt
Put the kasha in a rice cooker with two cups of water, a dash of salt, and a pat of butter. You can also cook it on the stovetop. Bring the kasha, butter, salt, and two cups water to a boil in a saucepan, then cover and turn heat to low. Cook until the water is absorbed and kasha is fluffy—about 20 minutes.
Scoop a cup of kasha into each bowl. Add more butter if desired, especially if you are not using another creamy topping.
Toss the kasha with any fruits you will be including.
Add a dollop of smetana and honey to taste.