Some might think I’d never have to look up a recipe again, having made each of them countless times while testing, but I do. I could probably get by, but reading my own writing and cooking from something in my hands is one of the reasons I think we still buy cookbooks even in a digital age. It’s the experience and the feeling.
Although they’re not always the prettiest of vegetables, they transform in the best of ways.
With so many different varieties, cooking techniques, and cultural ways of using squash, the opportunities seem endless.
And although pumpkin is lovely, I’m glad to see more people of replacing it with squash in autumn treats like pie. Not only do I think the taste is richer and less vegetal, but because squash has a lower water content, the texture is creamier.
This Winter Squash Pie with Candied Pecans is an adaptation from the Sweet Delicata Pie in my cookbook, my favorite “sweet” recipe of them all with my favorite squash.
Delicata squash has a flavor like sweet potatoes and macadamia nuts, buttery and rich. As the pie bakes, it takes on a deep caramel color, rich and creamy, with brown sugar notes that make merry with warm spices.
The salty-sweet oat crust is foolproof, and naturally gluten-free to boat. And between you and me, I prefer it over pastry crusts (when I need one for apple pie, this is the gluten-free lattice version I like to use).
So why the adaptations? Well, the most questions I get during cooking classes and here on the blog are how to adjust recipes for different food intolerances or preferences. I totally get it, after going through a year of auto-immune issues. I try to do my best to provide suggestions or do more recipe testing to provide an option, which is what I did with this pie when one of my students couldn’t consume dairy.
Coconut oil can do magical things, and I found out that “cutting it into” the oat mixture just like I did with butter worked perfectly. You start with it at soft, scoopable stage and use your hands to massage it into ingredients. You don’t notice the coconut flavor, and it holds together so well. You can even pick up a slice and eat it on the go without it falling apart – trust me, I tried it.
Making the filling dairy-free was relatively easy, swapping almond milk for regular, but decreased the amount originally called for because it is more water-based.
And although I prefer roasting delicata squash to make the puree, I realize we’re all human. There are days when we just don’t have time, the energy, or maybe even the access to delicata squash as called for in my original recipe. With that in mind, I experimented with using organic, canned butternut squash puree, and the result was a win. The flavor is a little lighter than the deepness you get from roasted squash puree, but truly the difference was minimal. I’ve made it using kabocha squash too with much success.
So from my oven to yours, I’m wishing you a happy winter squash season, and hoping that maybe this Winter Squash Pie makes into your harvest party, or perhaps Thanksgiving table. You won’t miss the pumpkin, dairy, or gluten – I’m sure of it. ☺
Winter Squash Pie with Candied Pecans (gluten-free, dairy-free)
- Oat Crust
- 3/4 cup rolled oats (70 grams)
- 3/4 cup oat flour (64 grams)
- 1/4 cup almond flour (28 grams)
- 2 packed tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons soft, Nutiva coconut oil (scoopable stage)
- Winter Squash Pie Filling
- 1 3/4 cups roasted squash puree (my favorite to use is delicata) or 1 (15 ounce can) organic butternut squash puree
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- Candied Pecans
- 1 tablespoon soft coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup raw, coarsely chopped pecans
- big pinch of salt
- for pecans: Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Place small saucepan on stove and turn to medium heat. Add coconut oil to melt, then stir in salt and brown sugar. Cook for 2 minutes to slightly dissolve, then add pecans and maple syrup. Cook for 6-7 minutes on medium heat, letting it bubble slowly and thicken, creating a sticky mixture. Remove from heat and spoon onto wax paper, spreading out slightly. Let cool, then break nuts apart and distribute on top of pie.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add oats, oat flour, almond flour, and brown sugar to a large bowl. Stir together, then use your fingers and hands to work the coconut oil into the dry mixture. This will bring the crust together, and when you squeeze it, it should hold together, the oats, getting moisture from the oil.
- Grease your hands lightly and pat the mixture into a 9 inch pie pan, working the crust all the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until crust is lightly brown and smells nutty. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack for 25 minutes.
- While crust is baking, add squash, pie spice, cinnamon, vanilla, almond milk, brown sugar and salt to a food processor. Puree until smooth, then add eggs. Pulse 6-7 times to incorporate, but do not puree. When crust has cooled, pour filling into crust (you may have a little extra, which you can pour into a small, greased ramekin and bake for a single, crust-less pie). Bake for 43-45 minutes, removing from oven when the filling is set but still a little loose in the middle. It will set up as it cools.
- Cool pie on a wire wrack, then place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours (overnight is best). Top with glazed pecans (recipe below), and slice for serving.