This month's Royal Foodie Joust challenge ingredients were right up this pumpkin fan's alley: acorn squash, orange, and sage. For the most part, anyway. I've never used sage in my cooking before and actually had to buy a little jar of the spice for the express purpose of this Joust. But still, as I enjoy pumpkin so much, I was excited to work with one of its close cousins in the kitchen. And I don't like only pumpkin; I'm an equal opportunity lover of squash.
Last fall, I made my first acorn squash, baked with the not uncommon (and for good reason!) toppings of diced apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar. So delicious, filling, and healthful! However, I wanted to do something a little more jazzy for this month's Joust, so a sweet stuffed acorn squash was out. I considered a savory stuffing, possibly with a lentil base. While I didn't explore that avenue further for the challenge, I still might try it in the future just for fun!
I finally found inspiration in Susan's Impossible Pumpkin Pie. A crustless, mostly savory squash pie? Yes, please! Here's my version, combining pureed pumpkin and mashed acorn squash, and gently flavored with spices like ginger and allspice in addition to the sage. I served the pie up with a sprinkle of roasted squash seeds, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and some orange maple syrup. This pie works as a side dish or a subtle yet satisfying dessert.
Harvest Spiced Squash Pie with Orange Maple Syrup
For the pie:
1.5 cup skim milk
1/2 cup egg replacers (or 2 eggs, beaten)
1/2 cup acorn squash, mashed
1.5 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 T cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp sage
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray (I use a spray with a canola oil base).
To harvest the acorn squash, slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. (I saved the seeds and roasted them while the pie baked -- simply sprinkle them with cinnamon and sage and leave them in the oven for about 15 minutes or until browned and crispy-dry. I let mine go for too long and burned them, but I like them that way!) Fill a slightly concave plate with water and place one half of the acron squash face down in it. Microwave until the skin is tender (at least 5 minutes, often closer to 10 depending on the squash's size). Let the squash sit until cool enough to handle, then scoop out the flesh (or, alternatively, peel the skin away if tender enough). Mash the flesh slightly. One half of a small acorn squash provides enough for this recipe, but feel free to experiment with different ratios of acorn squash to pumpkin puree (for which I used canned pumpkin).
In a blender, combine the milk, eggs, cornstarch, and vanilla. Add the acorn squash and pumpkin and continue to blend. A lovely froth will foam over the surface of the mixture. Add the rest of the spices and puree for at least two minutes. Scrape down the blender's sides with a spatula every so often. When fully integrated, pour the mixture into the pie pan.
Bake 50-60 minutes, or until browned at the edges and cooked through the center. The pie will not be completely solid, but should hold its form when sliced. The pie will rise substantially while baking, so you may want to either use a deep dish pie pan or place the regular sized pie pan on top of a baking sheet.
Allow the pie to cool before slicing and serving. Sprinkle with your choice of toppings, or try my orange maple syrup with a sprinkling of roasted acorn squash seeds and a dollop of rich Greek yogurt. This pie tastes great fresh or chilled!
For the syrup:
1 T orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup maple syrup (I used sugar-free)
1 generous shake of cinnamon
(Use as much or little cinnamon as you prefer. My "generous shake" came from a Costco-sized jar of the spice, so it probably amounted to at least 1 teaspoon, if not more. Trust your palate on this one!) Combine the concentrate, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir until blended. If you like your syrup warm, heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds.