Russian Pumpkin-Rice Casserole Recipe - Tykvy Ris Zapekanka

Russian Pumpkin-Rice Casserole
Russian Pumpkin-Rice Casserole. © Philippe Desnerck / Getty Images
  • 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 6 servings Pumpkin Casserole

This Russian Pumpkin-Rice Casserole Recipe, or Tykvy Ris Zapekanka (тыквы рис запеканка), is also known as Pumpkin-Rice Porridge or Risovaya Kasha s Tykvoy (Рисовая Каша с Тыквой). In Russian. The word kasha refers to any cooked grain or cereal. The most popular kashas are made with buckwheat, millet, semolina, oats, barley, and rice. In the U.S., "kasha" refers to toasted buckwheat groats which are often used in Jewish cooking as a stuffing in knishes and other recipes, and in the popular dish known as Kasha Varnishkes.

Although traditionally served as a side dish, it could be served as a warm dessert (after all, pumpkins and other squash are fruits, not vegetables) if you amp up the sugar, similar to a pumpkin rice pudding or custard.

This would make a great centerpiece for any autumn-themed dinner since it is baked in a hollowed-out pumpkin shell (although it will bake fine in a casserole dish, too).

What You'll Need

How to Make It

  1. Wash and dry the pumpkin. Cut the stem end off and set aside. Remove strings and seeds of pumpkin and discard, or roast the seeds later. Using a melon baller or other tool, scoop out as much pumpkin flesh as you can without piercing the skin and thinning the walls too much. Chop the flesh and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil and add the rinsed rice. Cover and cook over high heat until still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. Drain well.
  1. Meanwhile, heat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine chopped pumpkin, partially cooked rice, raisins, dried sour (or sweet) cherries, and melted butter. Season with sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. Because it will expand, stuff the pumpkin shell loosely with the mixture and sprinkle with the hot water. Place the reserved pumpkin lid on tightly. Place on baking sheet and bake till pumpkin is tender (when the tip of a thin knife can easily be inserted into the pumpkin), about 2 hours. Remove from oven. Let cool about 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Source: Adapted from a recipe on

Rice in Russia

According to the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies, for the past 65 years, more than 30 rice varieties are cultivated in Russia, mostly in the Krasnodar, Rostov, Primorsky and Astrakhan regions, and in the republics of the northern part of the Caucasus.

Rice in Russian Cooking

In Russia Beyond the Headlines, writer Evgeny Borodich says Russians probably first began consuming rice during the reign of Peter the Great in the 17th century. Today, it has become a popular part of the Russian culinary repertoire, appearing in everything from rice porridge (risovaya kasha) to sweet or savory pies to soups, as a way to stretch meat, as a way to reduce excess salt (wrap some rice in butter muslin, tie it and suspend in the salty food), and for religious ceremonies like weddings (throwing rice at the bride and groom is thought to bring good luck and abundance) and funerals when kutia is eaten.

Kutia is traditionally made with wheat berries and rice, but it also can be made with rice and raisins -- rice symbolizing eternal life and raisins symbolizing heavenly peace.