The Frugal Foodie: Stay traditional at school with Jewish comfort foods

Sometimes, all you want is a meal that reminds you of home just like the one Babushka makes. Grandma’s special recipe really isn’t that hard to recreate while you’re in college! Two of the most common Jewish comfort foods, kasha varnishkes and couscous are good for those people who are on a budget, like us college students. These make for great side dishes and last a while if you freeze or refrigerate the extra food that you don’t eat. The following recipes serve four people, or can last for four nights if you are only cooking for yourself.


Kasha Varnishkes


1 cup kasha grain

2 cups chicken stock (vegetable broth for vegetarians)

1 cup cooked bowtie pasta

1/2 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 cloves chopped garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper (add more as needed)



Bring chicken/vegetable broth to a boil. Add kasha grain to boiling broth. Reduce heat to medium. Cover pot and let simmer for 12-15 minutes. While kasha is simmering, heat up olive oil in a frying pan. Sautee mushrooms, onion and garlic in frying pan until vegetables are soft. After kasha is done and all the broth has been absorbed, add cooked bowtie pasta and vegetables in the kasha pot. Add salt and pepper for taste. Enjoy!

Kasha varnishkes are a great side dish to chicken, fish, tofu, steak and everything of the like.



Israeli Couscous


1 cup Israeli couscous

2 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 red onion

2 firm tomatoes

1/2 cucumber, sliced in medallions

Pinch of Cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

8-10 drops of lemon juice



Bring water to a boil. Add couscous to boiling water. Reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for about eight minutes. While couscous is simmering, heat olive oil and butter in large saucepan. Sautee tomatoes, cucumbers and onions––don’t let vegetables get too soft. After water has been absorbed and couscous is soft, add vegetables and a pinch of cumin, salt, ground pepper and lemon juice. Serve hot or put in container and refrigerate for a cold salad.

Couscous, too, makes a great side dish for just about anything. You can also eat couscous as a salad for lunch or as a first course meal for dinner.

You can find kasha grains and Israeli couscous at Wegmans in the international food aisle. These side dishes are high in protein and go great with anything. Make your Babushka proud and cook for her for a change!