Nasdjin: Ossetian Pies with Pumpkin

Тыква, or tykva, is a Russian word that is generally translated as 'pumpkin'.  However, it's meaning is quite a bit broader than that.  Tykva can really refer to just about any type of winter squash, from actual pumpkins to butternut or Blue Hubbard squashes.  In all of its forms, though, tykva is valued in many cultures as a nutritious and tasty vegetable.  It is rich in fiber, vitamins A, C and a host of other vitamins and minerals.  One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy this type of squash is Nasdjin (насджин), or Ossetian pie with pumpkin.

For Nasdjin, you will need the following:
  • 1 recipe Ossetian pie dough
  • 1 butternut squash or pie pumpkin
  • 4 large onions
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp dried summer savory
  • 2 C walnuts, ground
  • 1 C crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper
  • melted butter (about 1 Tbsp per pie)

To start with, remove the rind and seeds of the squash.

Next, using the large holes of a box grater, grate all of the squash. Set aside for now.

Halve and slice all four onions.  Saute them gently in a generous amount of vegetable oil until they are very soft and transluscent but not browned.

Add the savory, along with salt and pepper to taste.

Now add the onions and spices to the grated squash.  Allow this to cool slightly (or else it will prematurely melt the cheese).  

Stir in the ground walnuts and the feta.
Check the seasoning of the filling and adjust if necessary.

Proceed to form the pies as shown in the Potato-Cheese filling recipe, spreading out the dough, placing the filling in the middle and gathering up the edges as if for a giant dumpling.  Pinch off any excess dough at the top and gently flatten the pie on the pizza pan.  Bake it in a hot oven (500 degrees F), starting it off on the bottom rack until the pie is loose on the pan and finishing off on the top rack until the pie is browned nicely.  Brush a tablespoon of melted butter onto each pie to soften the crust.
This recipe will make two or three pies, depending on how large you make them and how much filling you manage to cram into each pie.  Personally, I prefer them with as much filling as I can possibly fit inside, but to each her own, right?  Enjoy!

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