Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pumpkin Kasha 3 Ways

On my drive home from work, my head was swimming with pumpkin ideas for Elise's Great Pumpkin Carve Up Cook Off food blog event. But as I got home and started reheating dinner, it suddenly occurred to me that the perfect pumpkin dish was staring me in the face. It never occurred to me to write about my homey Pumpkin Kasha. Somehow it seemed so non-gourmet, so simple.

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.

Serves 6

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
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the pumpkin and raisins, and cook another 5-10 minutes.
  6. 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.


Pyewacket said...

Those look delicious.

Elise said...

Agreed pyewacket. Especially the fried rice cakes. Yummmm.

Anonymous said...

Yum! Triple Yum?

Anna said...

I still make this every fall since my pumpkin skills are limited. I was wondering if you know how to make the pumpkin Helmand restaurant makes. I am sure you have been there and if not I highly recommend it.
Thank you,

Helen said...

Yes, I love Helmand's pumpkin, but don't know how to recreate it.

Anna said...

I have to tell you I have been making this for my child for months. My child thinks this is the greatest thing ever invented. I am concerned that the pumpkin season is over and I have no idea how to cook any other 'kasha' My oatmeal is always raw and buckwheat is just kind of boring by itself. Thanks to you I learned how to make pumpkin and cook arborio rice and that arborio rice exists in general. I would like to Thank you:-)

Helen said...

So glad I could help!

Anna said...

Do you think I can do this with millet instead of rice? Cook millet in water, add milk and then pumpkin. Can millet absorb milk like the rice? Do you think this would taste good? Just curious.

Helen said...

Yes, my Mom does it with millet. I've never cooked millet (because I don't particularly like it), so I don't know the ratio of liquids. But I would try substituting millet in this recipe and seeing what happens. Millet is cheap, so you are not risking much :)

Anna said...

Ha! Thank you:-) I will let you know what I think of it.