You are probably thinking of buckwheat with pumpkin -- an odd combination indeed. Let me explain the name. In Russia, Kasha refers to a dish cooked out of any grain (buckwheat, oats, wheat, millet, barley, rice, etc). Just like not all pasta is spaghetti, not all kasha is buckwheat. This particular kasha is made with rice. It is somewhere between risotto and rice pudding -- with puffed up rice grains wrapped in pumpkin creaminess. No cinnamon, no nutmeg, nothing to distract form the flavor of pumpkin. The only thing I sometimes add are raisins. Not to say that spices wouldn't be good in this dish, but they are not traditional, and it's never a good idea to mess with your childhood memories.
I didn't carve a pumpkin for this dish, but since this was yesterday's dinner leftovers, I figured it was in the right spirit of not wasting pumpkin.
I did play around with it a little and made pumpkin rice cakes and pumpkin kasha brulee just for fun. The rice cakes were particularly good drizzled with maple syrup.
1 sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
1 1/2 cups risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli, etc)
3 cups water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 cups milk
2/3 cups raisins (optional)
2 Tbsp butter
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Scoop out pumpkin flesh and mash.
- In a large heavy pot, combine rice, water and half Tbsp salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is almost tender, 15-20 minutes.
- Add the milk and another half Tbsp salt, bring to a simmer, cover and cook on very low stirring occasionally until rice is tender and most of the milk is absorbed, 20-30 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.
- Add the pumpkin and raisins, and cook another 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in the butter and serve.
To make pumpkin rice cakes, chill pumpkin kasha overnight. Shape into patties, dredge in bread crumbs (panko works best), and fry on both sides in 1 Tbsp butter.
To make pumpkin kasha brulee, scoop into ramekins, smooth the top, sprinkle with sugar and put under the broiler until browned, 4-5 minutes (check every minute since broilers differ). But I must say that it tastes better just sprinkled with a little sugar.