The first time I had pie made from a roasted pumpkin instead of puree from a can, it tasted too vegetabley too me. Nowadays though, I’ve come to prefer it. I like food that tastes like what it is! I’ve even omitted the classic pumpkin spice in my pie in favor of cardamom and honey. Whipped egg whites lighten the filling, so it’s airy enough for seconds, even after a big meal.
Sugar pumpkin, for making pie, is not the same kind you use to carve a jack-o-lantern: its flesh is creamy, sweet and superior for cooking. It’s not always easy to find, so I made this pie with a combination of butternut and kabocha. Any creamy-textured winter squash will be fantastic! I encourage you to experiment.
Before you assemble this pie, you’ll need to roast a couple of squashes and par-bake two crusts. If you’re preparing for Thanksgiving, the squashes can be cooked days ahead. To do this, cut them in half and scoop out the seeds, then roast them face down on a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees until they are easy to mash with a fork, about 40-60 minutes (scoop out the flesh and discard the skin). You can roll out and freeze the pie dough in the pie plates until you are ready to bake; use your favorite recipe (here’s one from Food52’s Erin McDowell), and par-bake it lined with foil and weighted with beans or pie weights just before making the filling.
For a sparkling green finishing touch, sugar some sage leaves. To do this, whisk an egg white just until frothy. With clean soft paintbrush, paint the egg white onto the tops of some sage leaves. Sprinkle them with a generous coating of sugar, and allow to dry for a few minutes. (These hold up well at room temperature and can be made in the morning to serve in the evening.)
The thing I love most about this pie, is that it’s not just for Thanksgiving! It will fit in just right at a your turkey day feast, but can be served any time during the winter squash season.
Cardamom and honey squash pie
Makes 2 pies
2 par-baked single crust pie shells
2 cups roasted squash
3/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups cream
4 eggs, separated
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. You’ll need a stick blender (preferred) or food processor to make this filling. First, puree together the squash and honey as best you can. Don’t worry if you can’t get it completely smooth. Heat this in a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat, stirring, until it’s steaming and glossy. Gradually mix in the cream and puree the mixture again. Stir in the cardamom and salt, then bring the mixture to a simmer; remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks. Blend the hot squash mixture into them, about one cup at a time, until it’s all mixed together. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Stir about a quarter of the egg whites into the squash mixture, then gently fold in the rest.
3. Fill your par baked pie crusts with this mixture. Bake then at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the center is set by still wiggles slightly. Cool until set, about 2 hours, before serving. The pies are best served the same day, but will keep at room temperature for two days, or a little longer in the refrigerator.
Photo credit: Allison Davis