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Varnishkes Recipe (Bow Tie Pasta with Buckwheat Kasha)

A hearty filling dish of buckwheat kasha with bow tie pasta, this Varnishkes recipe is a traditional Eastern European / Jewish food and is amazingly delicious for such a simple combination of ingredients. Serve it on its own as a side dish.

varnishki recipe

I grew up eating buckwheat, but then kind of forgot all about it for a while. A few years ago I learned how healthy buckwheat is, and since then I've been cooking with it more and more.

I wrote about buckwheat's nutritional value, where to buy buckwheat, and ways to cook with it in this recipe: Buckwheat Kasha with Mushrooms. Go read all about it! And you also want to check out this Buckwheat Bowls with Roasted Vegetables recipe.

Buckwheat is a regular ingredient in my family's cooking, and this time I wanted to share this Varnishkes recipe with you. It's a traditional eastern European Jewish buckwheat recipe.

More buckwheat recipes: Buckwheat Breakfast Bowls

What are varnishkes?

Varnishkes is a traditional Jewish dish of cooked buckwheat groats and bow tie pasta. 

Side note: If you were to search for varnishki on google, for some reason ''varnishkes" is what google suggests you should be searching for. But ''varnishki" is already plural, so there is no need to add the 's' at the end, or change the i to an e.

Varnishkes is a dish is simply seasoned only with salt, pepper, and parsley. But the great thing is that you can spruce it up very easily - just add some Parmesan when serving, add some crushed red pepper when stir frying the onion and buckwheat together, or try different herbs such as dill or basil. 

I used bowtie pasta because that is how my grandma makes this dish, but feel free to use any kind of pasta you like. Next time I will use a whole wheat pasta, but I wanted Aldo to try it the traditional way before I start messing with the recipe.

varnishki recipe

I can already think of several things I could do next time if I wanted to add some more variety to this varnishki recipe - sauté some mushrooms, or do a fried rice kind of thing where I add some eggs, soy sauce, and frozen peas while stir frying the buckwheat.

Related recipe: Buckwheat Tea

More traditional Ukrainian and Russian recipes

Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know with a comment and a star rating below, and don't forget to save it for later on Pinterest:

pinterest image of varnishkes - buckwheat kasha with bow tie pasta


varnishki recipe
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5 from 3 votes

Varnishkes Recipe (Buckwheat Groats with Bow Tie Pasta)

A hearty filling dish of buckwheat kasha with bow tie pasta, this recipe is a traditional Eastern European / Jewish food and is surprisingly delicious for such a simple combination of ingredients. Serve it on its own as a side dish.

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: Eastern European, Jewish
Servings: 4
Author: Kate


  • 8 oz bow-tie pasta - unooked
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats - uncooked
  • Water - for cooking pasta and buckwheat
  • 1 medium onion - finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil - divided
  • ¼ cup parsley - roughly chopped
  • Salt & pepper - to taste
  • Optional: red pepper flakes - or grated parmesan for serving


  • Cook pasta according to package directions. I like mine to be really al dente for this dish. Drain and rinse with cold water. 
  • While pasta is cooking, also cook the buckwheat according to the package directions. If you would like add extra flavor to the dish, cook the buckwheat in veggie broth. Drain and rinse with cold water, and transfer back to the pot. 
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, stir fry the chopped onion for 3-5 minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or until it softens and starts turning golden brown. 
  • Add the cooked buckwheat, and stir fry on high for 3-5 minutes, until the buckwheat starts to brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to add some red pepper flakes if you like things spicy. 
  • Add the buckwheat/onion mixture to the pasta. Stir in chopped parsley, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well. If it looks dry, add another glug of olive oil. Taste it and add more salt/pepper if desired. Serve warm. Add some freshly grated parmesan if you like.  




Calories: 477kcal (24%) | Carbohydrates: 74g (25%) | Protein: 13g (26%) | Fat: 14g (22%) | Saturated Fat: 2g (10%) | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 48mg (1%) | Fiber: 5g (20%) | Sugar: 1g (1%) | Vitamin A: 735IU (15%) | Vitamin C: 11.6mg (14%) | Calcium: 12mg (1%) | Iron: 0.6mg (3%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

Have you ever cooked with buckwheat? Let me know below!

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Little Cooking Tips

Friday 5th of June 2015

First of all, EXCELLENT dish. We didn't know about Varnishki, it's a very interesting combination! We have wheat groats here in Greece, but buckwheat groats is impossible to find. Did you ever try Varnishki with common groats? Sorry if this sounds stupid, we aren't familiar with the Russian cuisine (yet) :) Thank you for the wonderful post, Panos and Mirella


Sunday 7th of June 2015

When you say wheat groats, do you mean bulgur or something similar to that? I think buckwheat might work better in this recipe because buckwheat has a specific earthy taste, otherwise the pasta and the wheat might be too similar tasting and might not have enough contrast. But if you do try making it with wheat groats, please let me know hot it turns out!


Saturday 7th of March 2015

I'll be honest, I'd make it just so I could say the name. The fact that varnishki bow tie pasta looks amazing makes it even better!


Monday 23rd of February 2015

How did you remember this dish? I actually forgot about it.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

Monday 23rd of February 2015

That's such a pretty dish. I wouldn't have thought of the bowtie pasta and buckwheat but now I can't wait to try it.

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