I do love a vegetable that’s adaptable, something that can be used in all sorts of dishes both sweet and savoury. And sometimes in surprising ways. Pumpkins and squash definitely hit that criteria. In beautiful shades of orange, these lovely gourds maybe be harvested in autumn, but can last all through the long winter.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m rather in to rainbow eating! Consuming a variety of colours throughout the day means you have access to a wonderful range of powerful phytonutrients, tiny little chemical compounds found inside fresh produce. Each one plays a supportive role and can have strong anti-inflammatory properties and anti-oxidant effects – very useful in cold and flu season (not to mention a pandemic!).
Orange pumpkin and squash means they’re packed full of betacarotene, chemical compounds that are plant precursors to vitamin A. As well as supporting the immune system, betacarotene also supports the skin, mucous membranes, eyes and hair and can slow the ageing process (horrah!). We eat them regularly in all sorts of recipes as you can see in this blog post.
One of the most popular recipes in my book Eat Well Live Well with The Sensitive Foodie is roast squash tart, a delicious savoury tart. But of course pumpkin (or squash) can be used for a sweet tart filling as pumpkin pie.
Not a traditional British dish, pumpkin pie is most associated with Thanksgiving in the US. As well as pumpkin purée, the recipe usually calls for butter, eggs and milk – definitely not dairy-free and plant-based! And although pumpkin is sweet, there’s also a fair amount of added sugar, something else to be avoided if you’re following an anti-inflammatory diet or using food as medicine to control or reverse disease.
But all is not lost! If you’re a pumpkin pie lover, you’ll be pleased to know it’s possible to make a tasty alternative plant-based version using roasted pumpkin, maple syrup and a little cornflour to help it set and get a satisfactory wobble.
Two things to mention about this recipe before you start. If you choose to make pumpkin purée yourself, it needs to be roasted (as I did to caramelise the flavours) or steamed and cooled before you are ready to make the pie. It’s easier to do this the day before. Secondly, the pie needs time to cool and set in the fridge after baking – ideally 3 hours or overnight. You can eat it before then, it just won’t be quite the same texture. So plan ahed!
If you think this recipe is difficult, don’t worry – it’s not! I think its simpler than the traditional way and more enjoyable too. And it’s not just me who thinks so – I taught this recipe for my first online live cooking lesson on Saturday, and the feedback was great! If you missed the lesson, don’t worry I’m running more. For the rest of this year we are making Christmas recipes including Christmas cake, gingerbread and yule log. To find out more and to book please check out the Oliss.co website here. Spaces are running out though, so don’t delay.
If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving this Thursday, I hope this recipe will help you make a tasty but super healthy version. And if you’re not, then I hope you enjoy it anyway and have a moment to give thanks for something positive in your life.
Sweet pumpkin pie
For the pastry
- 1 heaped tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 3 tablespoons water
- 100 grams oats ground into flour
- 100 grams ground almonds or sunflower seeds if nut free
- pinch salt
- 4 tablespoons water
For the filling
- 800 grams pumpkin purée* see note below
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
- 50 grams coconut sugar
- 5 tablespoons maple syrup
- pinch salt
- 3 tablespoons cornflour or tapioca flour or arrowroot
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mix or mix ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove
Make the pastry
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Grab a pie tin - line with non-stick baking paper if it's make from glass
- Mix the flaxseed and water together to make a flax egg and leave for 5 minutes to thicken.
- Mix the ground oats, nuts and salt together in a large bowl. Pour in the flax egg and 3 tablespoons of the water. Mix together well, first with a spoon then with your hands to form a soft dough. If it is too dry, carefully add more water. Transfer the pastry to a silicon mat or apiece of non-stick baking paper and carefully roll out a circle big enough to line the pie tin.
- Hold the mat or paper upside down over the tin and carefully peel off the pastry to fit. Press into the bottom and trim the edge. Pre-bake in the oven for 7 minutes.
Make the filling
- Whilst the pastry is baking, place the pumpkin purée in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Check the flavour and add more spices or sweetness as desired.
Construct and cook
- Once the pastry is ready, remove from the oven, carefully pour in the filling and return the tin to the oven to bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully and then chill, for at least 3 hours or ideally overnight. The filling will then fully set.
- Cut into portions and serve with dairy-free yoghurt or cream (my favourite was Nush almond yoghurt – the tartness complemented the pie filling)