Despite my annual CSA coming to an end several weeks ago, I still had some vegetables taking up valuable kitchen real estate. These included a small acorn squash and a medium butternut squash. I knew I could simply roast them up or turn them into soup, but I had other (sweeter) plans for theses babies.
On my recent trip, a family friend brought a carrot pie to a family dinner (which by the way, YUM. I will definitely have to try to make that someday!) That got me thinking about other creative ways to turn regular old vegetables into delicious desserts. So I figured why not turn the squashes taking up counter space into Roasted Winter Squash Pie? The way I see it, winter squash are all pretty similar, so a pie made with a butternut squash and an acorn squash should taste pretty much like a pumpkin pie anyway. And for some reason, preparing the squash for the pie seemed a lot less daunting than preparing a pumpkin (which I did try before, to horrible results – I’ve used canned puree ever since.)
Well, it turns out I was right on at least one count – the pie did turn out pretty much like a pumpkin pie. But it turned out like a really, REALLY good pumpkin pie. And I was right about the squash being really easy to prepare too. Now that I think about it, I don’t know why a small pumpkin would be much different – I must have done it wrong last time. But the point is, if you have a butternut squash around, it will make a really delicious pie. Acorn squash on it’s own will likely make a pie that looks different, due to it’s bright yellow vs. orange color.
Now I won’t say this pie is exactly easy to make (at least for me, since I almost never make pie). But it’s really not that difficult – especially if you already have the squash roasted and pureed and ready to go. And especially if you already know how to make pie crust (which I really didn’t) or use a store bought crust (oops, did I just write that?)
The ingredients are pretty much like you would find in any pumpkin pie – cream and milk, eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt and spices. I did use lower fat milk and cream than in the recipe I was kinda working off in order to reduce the calories. The results were still absolutely delicious.
Now I won’t say much about the crust, since I obviously shouldn’t be giving lessons on making pie crust. I will say I used an all butter recipe and it did actually ending up turning out pretty good, despite it looking pretty bad. It was nice and crisp with a good flavor.
The other thing to note is that the pie crust must be prebaked before you add the filling. In this case you must fill it with pie weights to keep it from puffing up while baking. And if you don’t have pie weights (and really, if you’re not a pastry chef there’s a pretty good chance you don’t), just use dried beans. But you won’t be able to cook with them later – so maybe use some old ones that you’re pretty sure you’ll never use anyway. I don’t even know why I had these black eyed peas sitting around. You can however, save them for future pie weight uses.
The other thing to keep in mind is that both the pie crust and the filling need to be warm when your pour the filling into the prebaked crust. So timing is pretty important in making this pie. You also need to be careful when transferring the filled pie into the oven, lest you slop it all over the crust, pie plate and baking sheet like I did.
My pie took quite awhile to bake – about 1 hour, though the recipe I used recommended a maximum of 35 minutes. Although you want the center of your pie to still be jiggly at the done point, the center of my pie was completely raw, barely even hot at 35 minutes. So what I recommend is to start checking it every 10 minutes after 35 minutes. You’re going for the edges to be set, but the center still jiggly and 175°F in the middle. The pie will then completely set while it is cooling to room temperature.
Your results will be a super creamy and custard-like pie with a slightly mellower flavor than traditional pumpkin pie. I have been savoring this roasted squash pie all week, and I find I can’t wait to have my daily slice of pie. Normally I’m not crazy about pumpkin pie at all. And normally, I can’t eat pumpkin pie without whipped cream. This one tastes so good that it definitely doesn’t need it, and I think it may even taste better without it!
Even if you’re a pumpkin pie lover, making a Roasted Winter Squash Pie is a great alternative if you have an extra butternut squash or two kicking around. Or if it’s not Thanksgiving time and you can’t find fresh pumpkins around.
- One medium butternut squash, sugar (or pie) pumpkin or acorn squash (see note)
- Canola oil
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup milk (I used 1%)
- 3 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla
- One 9-9.5" pie crust (homemade or storebought)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- Heat oven to 400°F. Cut the squash in half with a large, sharp knife and remove seeds with a spoon. Lightly brush the cut side of a squash with canola oil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and brush lightly with canola oil. Place the cut side of the squash down and bake until the skin is soft and easily pierced with a skewer, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool, then scoop the flesh from the skin with a spoon. Puree until smooth using a food processor or immersion blender. Measure out 3 cups of pureed squash. Reserve the rest for another use.
- Whisk cream, milk, eggs and yolks, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Move oven rack to lowest position. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack and preheat it at 400°F. Line your pie shell with 2 layers of foil, ensuring to cover edges of crust and fill with pie weights (or dried beans). Bake on the heated baking sheet for 15 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven - pie shell MUST still be warm when the filling is added.
- While the crust is baking, stir together 3 cups of the pureed squash, brown sugar, maple syrup, ginger, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly for 15-20 minutes, until thickened.
- Remove pot from heat and whisk in cream mixture until completely mixed. Transfer this mixture (it must still be warm) to the warm, prebaked pie crust.
- Bake on the baking sheet for 10 minutes at 400°F. Without opening oven, reduce heat to 300°F. Allow to bake until the edges of the pie are set and the center measures 175°F on an instant read thermometer, at least 35 more minutes. After 35 minutes, check temperature every 10 minutes until done.
- When done, remove pie from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, 2-3 hours. The pie will set completely during this time. Serve alone or with whipped cream.