Quinoa Varnishkes

In Recipies on February 16, 2012 at 9:55 am

This is a dish I can’t believe Phyne Dyning hasn’t’ offered up yet.

The traditional version needs some color!

Kasha varnishkes!

“Kasha”, or buckwheat groats, is a staple in the Russian diet and kasha varnishkes exist throughout Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine in many variations. Kasha varniskes are a typical uzhyn (supper) meal for Russian families.

Looking forward to my recipe for kasha varnishkes?

Well, you’re outta luck.

I set forth recently to make a batch and discovered, too late, that I was out of buckwheat groats.

I thought long and hard about substituting pearl barley, but I would have to soak it for at least four hours (or overnight). Time was wasting and supper needed to be on the table in less than an hour.

What now?

What about using bulgur wheat? Nah…I’d still have to prepare it.

What about quinoa?

Now we’re talking Phyne Dyning.

We love quinoa. Toasted, it has a wonderful, nutty flavor and the toasting process gives the house a homey, peanut butter cookie smell. Quinoa is a wonderful substitute for rice and is high in protein. Before it is prepared, quinoa looks a LOT like Thelma’s bird seed. Cooked, it looks like little, white tadpoles with curly tails.


The issue settled; I began to explore my fridge for a few items to toss in, besides the traditional onion and mushroom mix.

There, lying forlornly in the bottom of my produce drawer, was a lonely carrot and a stalk of celery. The two would add some needed color to a dish that can be overwhelmingly “brown”.

The result here is not unique to one cultural flavor. It is a blend of South American, Russian, and Polish flavors and represents what wonderful things can come from mixing culinary heritages.

So, here we go!

1 C quinoa

2 C diced onion

2 C course-chopped mushrooms

½ C diced celery

½ C diced carrot

2 TBS vegetable oil

2 large cloves garlic, minced

8oz uncooked bow tie pasta

1 tsp vegetable base or bullion cube

2 tsp dried dill weed

2 tsp Penzey’s “Krakow Nights” Polish-style seasoning blend

2 C water

Toast the quinoa in a (large) heavy, dry skillet (that has a cover, but do not use the cover at this point) over medium heat for about ten minutes or until the quinoa turns golden and the grains start popping heartily. Savor the aroma! Set the quinoa aside to cool and then remove to a clean, small bowl.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and sauté it until it is just turning golden. Stir in the celery, carrot, and mushrooms. Season the mixture with one teaspoon of Penzey’s “Krakow Nights” and then stir in the garlic. Cook for one minute. Add the toasted quinoa, the vegetable base, and the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes.

While the quinoa and veggies are cooking, begin cooking the pasta in the boiling water when about 6 minutes remain for the quinoa cooking time. The pasta and quinoa will finish at roughly the same time. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pasta from the water and transfer it to the quinoa-vegetable mix. Sprinkle the remaining Penzey’s “Krakow Nights” seasoning over everything and then sprinkle with the dried dill. Toss the pasta and quinoa well to mix.

Serve, Russian-style, in shallow bowls. Accompany with neat glasses of vodka or strong, sweet tea.

Prijatnova appetita! (Bon appetite!)


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