As a fervent squash lover, I always look forward to Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pie. But over the past few years I have experimented with other kinds of (fresh, uncanned) squash purees and have discovered that you can make a ravishing “pumpkin” pie with a variety of oven-roasted, pureed squashes, including butternut, sugar pumpkin*, kabocha, and delicata. You can even combine different varieties in a single pie.
To prepare the squash for the pie, simply split it in half and scoop out the seeds (do not remove the skin). Lay the squash halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-covered sheet pan and roast it until the flesh is easily pierced with a knife (roasting time will vary for different varieties of squash). Cool the squash halves, scoop the flesh off the skin with a spoon, and mash/puree the flesh (I like to use a food processor for this). Any leftover squash can be used in other recipes (it’s great in muffins!) or top it with butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar for a yummy (and nutritious) side dish.
Winter Squash Pie
1 partially pre-baked, cooled pie shell (need instructions? See www.ochef.com/955.htm)
½ c. granulated sugar
½ c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 vanilla bean* (if unavailable, substitute 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract and add in with the eggs)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon dried powdered ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
2 c. squash puree of your choice
3 large eggs at room temperature
¾ c. half and half
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put sugars into a small bowl. Split 1/3 vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a small, sharp paring knife. Scrape seeds out of vanilla bean and add to sugars. With your hands, carefully disburse the seeds throughout the sugar (they tend to stick together in clumps). Add the flour, spices and salt to the sugar mixture. Place the puree in a large bowl, then slowly whisk the sugar-spice mixture into the puree until fully incorporated. Whisk the eggs into the puree until fully incorporated, then whisk in the half and half until mixture looks smooth.
Pour the mixture carefully into the pre-baked pie shell and place in the oven on the center oven rack. Bake for approximately 50-55 minutes, rotating the pie 180 degrees halfway through the baking time. The pie is finished when the filling looks completely set and does not move when the pie is gently jiggled. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. If you’re making the pie a day ahead, refrigerate it and then remove from the refrigerator 1 ½ hours before serving (or, alternatively, serve it cold).
*If you want to stick with pumpkin, make sure you roast a sugar pumpkin and not a big Halloween variety, which doesn’t work well for baking.