Last week, while perusing Facebook I came across one of those great recipe posts that always reel me in. I am a foodie, after all. Always have been, always will be. This one was from an organization called My Jewish Learning. The recipe was Kasha Varnishkes, otherwise known as Kasha & Bows. My Nana loved this dish, and passed that love on to me. She knew how much I loved it, and made it for me often. Seeing that recipe in that moment brought back all of the love I had ever felt for my Nana. It evoked the memory of eating it at her table, and all of the fun we had together. I loved being with her. During my younger years, she was really my best friend. I could go on and on, but that would be a blog for another time.
As an adult, it actually never occurred to me to make Kasha & Bows myself. First of all, Nana made it with schmaltz (which is Yiddish for rendered animal fat, and in this case chicken fat). Back in the day, schmaltz was used commonly in Jewish traditional cooking. I think for many years I didn’t consider trying to make it because whatever I made would never live up to her recipe.
As an older adult, Lifetime WW member, and now blogger on all things healthy, seeing this recipe on FB inspired me to take it on, but to recreate it in a healthier way. Kasha is actually buckwheat, which is a healthy grain, rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber. It is also low in calories. 1/4 cup is 160 calories.
I knew I didn’t want to use the traditional bowtie pasta. I wanted a pasta that would be lower in calories, and offer more nutrition. I found that in red lentil penne pasta. This is fairly new to the market. My Ralph’s in Santa Monica only had 2 to choose from, and they were not easy to spot on the shelves. Be careful too, when choosing one. The first one I looked at was $6.49, first of all, but was also too high in calories for me to consider. Finally, I found another brand hiding on a higher shelf , tucked in the corner. This one was $4.99, and within my calorie budget.
Together with these two main ingredients, I did create a pretty darn good replica of Nana’s Kasha & Bows. But mine is Kasha & Red Lentil Penne. It doesn’t taste like hers, of course, but it is delicious, and it did evoke those memories when I tasted it. The texture, and flavor of the kasha, the flavor of the cooked onion, and the pasta did take me back to Nana’s table.
I don’t know how many calories or WW points this really is, but I am very good at portion control, and won’t eat more than 1 cup of this at a sitting. The other ingredients include canola oil, an egg, and low sodium chicken stock. I didn’t even use salt, and I don’t miss it, but I have lost my taste for salty recipes anyway. Of course you should always add the seasonings of your choice.
Here is the link to the original recipe, of which the only deviation I made was the type of pasta: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/recipe/kasha-varnishkes/.
We are going to enjoy this for dinner tonight along side a lean protein to be named later. I will have the leftovers for lunch this week with chicken breast, and a salad made with broccoli slaw mixed with Trader Joe’s Healthy 8 Veggie Mix. I have several 2 point dressings here to choose from to use with that. I will freeze a portion as well. There is no way we’ll finish the whole dish this week.
For my breakfasts I made an egg white fritatta using fresh spinach, fresh basil, and roasted red peppers. Besides salt & pepper, and my usual flaxseed and chia seeds. I added a cube of Dorot frozen garlic to it to make it a little more savory. I did taste it, and it came out delicious.
I want to thank My Jewish Learning.com for bringing my Nana back to life for a minute the last couple of weeks. She lives on in my heart and in my spirit, and I am reminded of her every day, but the memory of this dish, and eating with her in her home, at her table was a profound one, full of love, and for that I am grateful.
Please feel free to share your memories, and your heritage with me and this audience. I would love to learn about you! Join the conversation.