I planted red kuri squash in my garden this year, and I wish I could say I grew the one below. Sadly, my plant didn’t do well at all, so I picked this one up at my local natural foods store.
If you’ve never tasted this variety of winter squash, you are in for a real treat. Red kuri squash is very sweet, with a naturally creamy texture. It reminds me a lot of kabocha squash.
This pie recipe is one I’ve made before with well-drained fresh pumpkin purée. I’ve also used organic canned pumpkin, and you can certainly go that route if you like. You could also try it with butternut or another kind of squash.
Keep in mind that if using pumpkin or another type of squash, you will probably want to add more sugar to the pie filling. I used only 1/2 cup of sugar in this recipe because of the intensely sweet flavor kuri squash develops when it’s roasted, but I’ve added 3/4-1 cup of sugar when using pumpkin.
In addition to requiring less sugar, another reason I like using kuri squash is that the purée does not need to drain the way homemade pumpkin purée does: it doesn’t contain much moisture which makes it ideal for pie making.
Kuri squash has a thick skin so you’ll need a heavy-duty knife to cut it in half. Once you do, you’ll scoop out the stringy stuff and the seeds just like you would any pumpkin or winter squash (the seeds are great roasted and seasoned). Then, you can cut each half into smaller pieces, and drizzle them with a little oil (I used olive oil). Turn the pieces flesh side down, cover with foil, and roast in a 375 degree F. oven until they’re very soft (40-45 minutes). If you prefer, you can steam the pieces until soft instead.
Allow the squash to cool completely, then scoop all the flesh away from the skins and place in a blender with the other filling ingredients. Ps I like to nibble on the skins…they’re pretty tasty and full of fiber ;)
Note that I opted to spice the pie filling only with cinnamon and ground ginger, but you could also add a bit of ground cloves or nutmeg, if you like.
Now, at the risk of inciting a riot, I’ll let you know that I do not usually bother with making traditional pie/pastry crusts (aka pate brisee). Sorry, but I just don’t love the way they taste. I prefer to make press-in cookie-type crusts (or sometimes I use nuts, dried fruit, and maybe some unsweetened coconut flakes instead for a healthier option). For this pie, I made a shortbread crust with whole wheat pastry flour, and I added some crystallized ginger to give it a little “oomph.”
If you truly enjoy the other sort of pie crust, feel free to use your favorite recipe…hopefully one that’s not made with shortening as this is filled with hydrogenated oils/trans-fats. It’s better for you to use a combination of butter and lard from grass-fed animals (this combination produces a very flaky crust, too). You could also use a high quality store-bought or homemade graham cracker crust (use gluten-free graham crackers if you need it to be gluten-free).
Kuri Squash Pie with Ginger Shortbread Crust
For the pie crust:
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tbsp crystallized ginger finely minced, or 1 tablespoon additional sugar
- 1/2 tsp course sea salt
For the pie filling:
- 2 cups kuri squash purée from a 2-3 pound squash see above for instructions, or use homemade pumpkin purée or a 15 oz. can of organic pumpkin
- 1 cup cream I used raw cream; coconut milk would work, too, I think
- 2 eggs preferably organic and free-range
- 1/2 cup sugar plus another 1/4-1/2 cup if you're making this recipe with pumpkin
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
For the crust:
- In a medium bowl, stir together butter and sugar. Stir in yolks. Add flour, crystallized ginger, and salt, and stir until mixture just starts to come together (it will still be somewhat dry and crumbly).
- Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Freeze for 20 minutes, or until firm, while you preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Cover crust with a round of parchment paper and pie weights (I use about 2 cups of beans, which I store in a glass jar and re-purpose again and again). Bake, rotating halfway through, just until crust turns golden brown, 20-22 minutes. Allow to cool before adding the pie filling.
For the pie:
- Process all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pour into prepared pie crust and place in the oven. Cook in preheated 325 degree F. oven until the filling is just about set in the middle (it will continue cooking a bit after you take it out of the oven). This will take about 50-60 minutes; if the pie starts to brown, cover it loosely with foil while it finishes baking.
- Allow the pie to cool in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight, and serve with homemade whipped cream to which you've added a healthy pinch of both ground ginger and cinnamon (I usually add a little organic powdered sugar to my whipped cream, too). 1 cup of organic cream makes about 2 cups of whipped cream, way more than enough for serving the pie.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator; in my experience, pumpkin pie does not freeze well.