Gardening in Russia is usually a group effort, a way grandparents, parents and children make the most of the long summer days in the country. Taking care of the vegetables, harvesting them and, of course, cooking them is a traditional part of dacha life.

Every family member, old and young, takes part in dacha activity. The dacha is the place young Russian children first experience how vegetables grow — and how they are cooked.

The fruits of your labor

A delicious meal, prepared with your family from your own produce, is a great source of pride, and also a reward for all the effort spent outdoors during the long summer months when it might have been more fun to simply take it easy. One vegetable that grows well in the Russian climate, produces alot and preserves well is squash.

Zucchini, white marrow squash and a number of other squash varieties are popular choices for Russian dacha gardeners. Russian farmers pick squash at all stages of development — from the young small fruit to the oversized ones that appear at the end of the season. At this stage, the peel of the fruit is already tough and the inside flesh can be easily removed with a spoon, which makes them perfect for stuffing.

Stuffed squash

Stuffed squash has long been a favorite dish for many Russian gardeners and is also popular with those who are watching their weight because it is low-calorie but very filling. To choose the right squash for stuffing, look for fruits that are 14-20 inches in length and about 4-5 inches in diameter. You can stuff smaller squashes, but keep in mind the portion sizes.

How to make it:


  • 1 large squash (about 3-4 lbs)
  • 1 lb of raw minced meat
  • 1 cup rice (about 200 g)
  • 1 large onion
  • ½ tsp salt
1. Parcook the rice. About 15 minutes should be fine. While the rice is cooking, wash and peel the squash. Cut it into 1-inch slices. Remove the seeds from each slice.

2. When the rice is ready, add it to the meat. Peel the onion and chop it, then mix it with meat and rice. Add salt (and pepper) to taste.

3. Place the squash slices on a baking sheet.

4. Put the meat mince into the center of each slice. Each piece should be filled with a heap of the meat and rice mixture. You can also add a little mayonnaise or grated cheese on top of the meat.

5. Put the sheet into a heated oven and bake the squash slices for approximately 25 minutes.