Abundant produce in the fall harvest is what I enjoy most about autumn: Brussels sprouts, apples, wild mushrooms, walnuts, chestnuts, quince, persimmon, pomegranate, rutabega, celery root … the list goes on. Autumn is the time for stews, roasted and braised vegetables, hot breakfast cereal, and pie.
Pumpkin Pie. Sweet Potato Pie. Squash Pie.
Squash pie? Yes, squash pie. Everyone’s favorite “pumpkin” pie is actually very often made from Hubbard squash. It’s a little known fact that canned pumpkin does not come from orange skinned pumpkins, but blue skinned, orange fleshed Hubbard squash.
After attempting to use heirloom pumpkins to make autumnal desserts, I’ve switched to squash, and for good reason. Many winter squash varieties have a lower moisture content and more flavor. Delicata squash is one of my favorite members of the Curcurbita genus, which includes both summer and winter squashes. Delicata has a nutty almond flavor, smooth flesh, and roasts quickly.
I began dreaming up this pie in Denver several years ago after making Cinnamon Mashed Delicata Squash. It tasted like snickerdoodle cookies, and thought it would make a great pie filling. Upon moving to Los Angeles in July, we found a line of California made treats called Complete Cookies. They are free of artificial ingredients, trans fat, and animal products. One bite of their snickerdoodle variety instantly set the gears in motion for finally making this dessert. And now that the holidays are coming up, I thought it would be a great time to share this recipe.
This recipe lets you “treat yoself” to pumpkin spice flavors without mistreating yourself with trans fat laden pie crusts and artery clogging cream and egg based fillings. Although Complete Cookies work great in this recipe, any flavorful cookie, including ones you’ve made yourself, will be delicious. See the recipe notes for suggestions for using other cookies.
- For the Filling:
- 1 ¾ lb / 3 cups Squash Pulp from 3 large Delecata Squash
- 5 oz / ⅔ cup Pitted Dates from 8 Medjool or 20 small honey dates
- 3 Tablespoons / 17 grams Very Finely Ground Flax Seeds
- 1 ¼ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon Ground Cloves
- ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- For the Crust:
- 3 Complete Cookies, crumbled, or 12 oz / 3 cups of your favorite cookies, divided
- 4 oz / 1 cup Walnut Halves and Pieces
- to prepare the squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a parchment paper or silpat lined cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, or until soft. Set squash aside until cool enough to handle, then use a spoon to scoop out the pulp into a mixing bowl.
- Add the pitted dates and flax meal to the squash and mix well. Set aside to activate the binding agents in the flax.
- Lightly toast the walnuts in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes. Let cool then chop. Mix the chopped walnuts with the cookie crumbs and divide into a ⅔ portion and ⅓ portion.
- Place the ⅔ portion of the crumb mixture in the bottom of a 9 ½ by 13 inch glass baking dish. Press the crumbs and walnuts together to form an even crust. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, puree the squash mixture with the spices in a food processor. Process until the dates are no longer visible. Taste and add additional spices if desired.
- Gently spread the squash filling over the parbaked crumb crust. Top with the ⅓ portion of the crumb mixture and very lightly press the crumbs into the squash filling. Bake at 325 for 30 – 40 minutes, rotating the pie half way through.
- Enjoy with coconut whipped cream or dairy free ice cream.
If you prefer deep dish pies, increase the amount of filling ingredients by 25%.
If you try the recipe, please let me know how you enjoyed it in the comments below. Also feel free to ask questions. Happy harvest season!