“Pumpkins, in October, as fat as the full moon, they sit on our doorstep at night and glow.”
—Richelle E. Goodrich, in Being Bold
My pumpkins usually sit on the counter, and wait no longer than a few days until I turn them into some cozy, fall-inspired meal. Last year I made a ton of spicy pumpkin soup and lots of pumpkin stuffed pastries, but this fall, I can’t stop making my childhood favorite: Ukrainian pumpkin kasha—something very nostalgic and dear to my heart.
If you think that kasha is just plain boiled buckwheat, I will definitely surprise you. In Eastern Europe, kasha is a vast food category that includes almost any cooked grain or cereal and can be either sweet or savory. In Ukraine, polenta, risotto, oatmeal and congee are all called kasha.
I grew up eating kasha almost every day, and every time it was different and exciting. Of course, as a kid I was mostly thrilled about sweet milky kasha, which was almost dessert-like. My mom would often make it for breakfast, mostly during colder months, and to this day kasha remains my ultimate fall comfort food.
This pumpkin millet kasha recipe is one of my all-time favorites. It has everything I love: rich flavor, complex aroma and dramatic appearance. I slowly cook millet inside a whole pumpkin until the millet grains are plump, the pumpkin flesh is tender and the skin is golden and caramelized. I usually make this kasha for our weekend brunch and serve it cut into wedges topped with a generous amount of flavorful Napa honey and a handful of roasted California walnuts. Pure comfort—and if this dish doesn’t scream “fall” to you, I don’t know what does.Print
4 small pumpkins, about 1 1/4 pounds each
1 cup millet
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons honey for serving
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
https://annavoloshyna.com/Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat oven to 350°F. Using a sharp paring knife, cut the top of each pumpkin off in one piece. Don’t discard the top; we’ll use it as a lid.
Using a tablespoon, scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy pulp until the inside of the pumpkin is clean and smooth. Place ¼ cup millet and ½ tablespoon golden raisins inside each pumpkin. Arrange the pumpkins on a baking sheet.
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, gently whisking until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat as soon as the mixture starts simmering.
Evenly divide the milk mixture among all four pumpkins, filling them ¾ full. Place pumpkin tops on pumpkins and place them in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours, until the pumpkins are completely soft when pierced with a small knife and caramelized outside, and the kasha is fully cooked. I recommend stirring the kasha every 30 minutes while baking to ensure it cooks evenly.
Serve the pumpkins whole or slice into wedges, and top with honey and chopped walnuts.
Anna Voloshyna was born and raised in Ukraine, living there for twenty years before moving to the United States. She is a photographer and chef specializing in Ukrainian cuisine, and the author of Budmo! Recipes from a Ukrainian Kitchen (Rizzoli, 2022). annavoloshyna.com
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Category: Vegetable
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Ukrainian
Keywords: pumpkin millet kasha ukraine