We're all familiar with pumpkin pie. But did you know that pumpkin pie has a twin? This vegan squash pie is just as delicious as pumpkin pie, but it has even more natural sweetness. The fact that it's dairy free means that everyone can enjoy it! This time of year here in the northeast, fall is in full swing. So we're drawn to more warming soups and fall comfort foods. Sweet treats made with seasonal pumpkins and squash are some of my personal favorites. Pumpkin pie is popular with my family, and a vegan squash pie tastes just as good. In fact, it tastes even better because you don't need to add as much sugar. Squash is naturally sweeter than pumpkin so I love using squash in place of the pumpkin in a pumpkin pie recipe.
How To Pick a Ripe Squash For Your Pie
So how to pick the best squash for your vegan squash pie? Here are three things to look for when buying squash at the store.
1. Check the Stem
Make sure there is no mold, moisture or softness around the stem. This could indicate spoilage. And check that your squash is not missing its stem as this means that it's an older squash that won't have the best flavor. A dark brown color stem is a good sign.
2. Check the Skin
Be sure that the skin is relatively smooth and blemish-free. Avoid light green streaks on butternut squashes as this means it was not ripe enough when picked. A good squash should not have cracks, too many rough or bumpy spots or dents. Dents mean it was mishandled or dropped and could spoil faster. Also avoid squash that is too shiny looking. A duller, matte surface shows a more ripened squash, while a too shiny appearance might indicate a squash that was picked prematurely.
3. Feel the Weight
If you pick up two similar size squashes and one weighs more than the other, go with the heavier one. It has more water weight, and this means it will be more moist inside, which is what you want. So overall choose a squash that feels dense and heavy for its size.
Making Vegan Squash Pie: Ingredients
Let's review the ingredients used in this Vegan Squash Pie, and what their role is in this recipe. Here is what you will need:
- Dried Apricots - I like the tartness and not too sweet flavor of apricots in the crust. They also help to bind it together.
- Pecans - Pecans add good fat, and when toasted, they have a nice crunchy texture.
- Sunflower Seeds - I like mixing some seeds with the nuts for a unique crust flavor and texture.
- Rolled Oats - I chose gluten-free but regular rolled oats work well too. The rolled oats have a natural sticky texture so they also help with binding the crust.
- Sea Salt - I love Redmond Sea Salt (Save 15% off Redmond Sea Salt using this code - "NaturalKitchen"). Any naturally dried sea water type of salt will work though. And if following a salt-free diet just skip it.
- Gluten-free Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Baking Mix) - You can swap other types of gluten free flour blends or regular all purpose flour can be used if you're not following a gluten-free diet.
- Sesame Oil - Be sure to use regular unrefined sesame oil, not the toasted one. Other neutral oils can be used instead, or use an equivalent amount of water if you prefer to skip the oil
- Cooked Squash Puree (canned or cooked from a kabocha squash*) - Personally I love the intensely sweet, slightly drier and dense kabocha squash puree, but feel free to use butternut squash puree instead.
- Pure Maple Syrup - Instead of maple-flavored sugar syrup, I always recommend using pure maple syrup. If you prefer you can use dates syrup or other liquid sweeteners. But I can't vouch for the flavor or texture variation when using substitutes for the maple syrup.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice - It's so much more convenient to use this combination spice rather than trying to gather together the right amount of individual spice ingredients like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. I know. We only use it once a year, but it's a good keeper and maybe you can find a few other recipes that use it, like a pumpkin bread or something.
- Pure Vanilla Extract - Just like I'm a fan or pure maple syrup, it's no surprise that I prefer to only use pure vanilla extract. Vanilla flavor just isn't the same!
- Coconut Milk or other dairy-free milk - Coconut milk, especially after the finished pie chills, will help to set up a nice firm texture. But you can try using other types of plant-based milk like a nut-based milk or one made from oats.
- Arrowroot Starch - This is an effective thickening agent used to add texture and structure to your pie filling.
Preparing the Squash
Cutting up a hard winter squash might seem intimidating. But it doesn't have to be! Follow these simple steps to cut into and cook your squash to make Vegan Squash Pie.
1. Use the right knife
I love ceramic knives but they are too delicate for a job like this. Use a sturdy stainless steel knife to cut into a hard winter squash. I like to use an 8-inch knife that has recently been sharpened for best results.
2. Scoop out the seeds
Use a large spoon to scrape out and remove all of the seeds and the membrane from the squash. Messy job? Yes it is, but it's well worth the effort!
3. Peel it and cut into pieces
You can now peel your squash halves using a good vegetable peeler. Although sometimes I do leave the skin on and remove it after cooking the squash. And another option is to just leave it on if you don't mind the color and texture in the squash puree. Next, go ahead and chop up the squash into large chunks.
4. Cook it
Place the chunks in a medium size saucepan with about an inch of water on the bottom. Bring to boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to simmer on low, covered, for about 20 minutes. Drain and reserve any remaining cooking liquid. Mash the cooked squash with a potato masher.
How To Make A Healthy Vegan Pie Crust
To make this crust I used a combination of nuts and seeds, along with some dried apricots and a few other ingredients. But feel free to substitute a traditional pie crust recipe using flour, or even a healthy store-bought prepared pie crust. Before blending all of the pie crust ingredients together, I first lightly toasted the seeds and nuts separately. This helps to give them more crunch and flavor. I also soaked my dried apricots because they had been in my pantry for awhile and were not super soft. Soaking any dried fruit with water to cover for 10 minutes to several hours will help soften them up. To get the right consistency you may have to keep checking between blending, to see if the mixture sticks together. You don't want it too moist or too dry. It should easily clump together in your palm when you squeeze a little amount. I added a little of the soaking water from the apricots to get the right consistency. Then I pressed the crust mixture into a lightly oiled pie plate, pressing it evenly up the sides and to cover the bottom.
Making the Squash Filling
At this point you will add the cooked squash to a food processor. Add in some maple syrup, spice, vanilla extract, coconut milk (or any dairy-free milk), arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), agar powder, and sea salt. Blend until smooth. Pour the prepared filling into the pie crust and bake for 10 minutes in a preheated 425 degree F. oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake for another 45 to 50 minutes. If you find that your crust gets done a little more than you like it, you can always skip the 425 degree F. part and just bake it at 350 degrees F. for one hour. This will result in a less browned crust edge.
Tips For Making The Perfect Vegan Squash Pie
- Be sure to let the pie cool to room temperature and refrigerate it before eating it.
- If you prefer a softer, more custard-y consistency, you can reduce the agar to ½ teaspoon or even skip it altogether.
- To serve your pie, you may want to make some whipped cream. It's easy to make your own using canned coconut cream. Just chill a can overnight in the refrigerator and scoop out the firm solids from the top. Place in a mixing bowl (or a food processor) and add a teaspoon or two of powdered sugar (or a pinch of pure monk fruit powder for sugar-free). Add a touch of pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean powder and blend with a hand mixer (or use the food processor) until smooth.
If You Enjoyed This Recipe, Then Try...
Our Vegan Pumpkin Pie recipe found HERE. Or this savory Creamy Squash Apple Soup. I love any excuse to eat squash! These creamy pumpkin pie bars from The Minimalist Baker. Natural Kitchen Cooking School, LLC participates in the Amazon Associate program. This means that we may receive a small commission for purchases made through links in this post. Thank you for your support of the work we do here at Natural Kitchen Cooking School!