For those of you who know me, it’s no secret that I love to cook. Sam always tells me that I excel at desserts and baked goods, which is true. So it should be no surprise that I felt I had to try and make this great (and unexpectedly delicious) new pie – Faux Coconut Pie, which is made with spaghetti squash.
I know it might sound strange, and if I hadn’t have made the pie for myself, I might be thinking the same thing you are – “No way, not on your life…that can’t even remotely taste good.” But, the pie has a surprisingly delightful taste and texture.
I, like so many people, had a spaghetti squash sitting on my counter and I was trying to figure out how I was going to use it. I’ve never cooked a spaghetti squash in my life, and when there was a sale on them at Harry’s Farmer’s Market I decided that I had to get it and try it. However, unlike most folks, I don’t always want to use ingredients in the most obvious way (faux spaghetti…how boring!) so I’ve been sitting on this squash for about three weeks now.
Yesterday, while I was at my computer typing away, the squash was in my peripheral, mocking me…“use me…..use me…..use me…….don’t let me sit here and rot away…..use me…….please!!!!”
So I decided to scour the internet looking for a recipe that would showcase the squash in an unusual but tasty way. I opened my web browser and went to one of my favorite trusty cooking websites –allrecipes.com – in which I am able to search by ingredient. Boom! On my first search, I found a recipe for a dessert pie, using spaghetti squash. I quickly perused the list of ingredients and noted that I had everything I needed, so I set to work.
I cut and seeded the squash, and decided the quickest way to cook it would be in the microwave, which always works well and I don’t have to heat up my house with my gas oven. As the squash was cooking away, I made the basic filling – sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Once the squash was done cooking in the microwave, I had to let it cool down so it wouldn’t curdle my filling since it has raw eggs in it. So I set the squash aside and addressed a much bigger issue – I didn’t have any pie crust in my freezer. Uh-oh!!
Now I must admit to you that when it comes to baking, I am game for just about anything….except pie crust. I honestly haven’t made good pie crust………ever! I have this fear of rolling it out too thin and then it tearing and looking all ugly. I also tend to overwork it and it becomes tough and dry. And you have to admit that Pillsbury does make a darned good (and convenient) refrigerator crust that rolls right into your own pie plates. So, why bother to put myself through all that stress when I can just open a package and pretend that it’s “from scratch”?
Unfortunately, I didn’t currently have any handy-dandy Pillsbury crust in my freezer, and I wasn’t about to run to the grocery store just to purchase some. So, I pulled out my trusty Amish cookbook (who makes better pies than the Amish, I ask you?!), and low and behold there were several crust recipes. Yeah! So I choose one that made a larger batch and I decided that whatever the outcome was, I was going to put a few “from scratch” crusts in my freezer for a rainy day. And that’s just what I did – I now have 3 more single crusts ready to go in my freezer. But that’s beside the point, isn’t it….I get sidetracked so easily!
Once the crust was done, my squash had cooled enough to scrape it out of its shell and mix into the custard. I must warn you at this point, that if you have issues with a stringy texture, you’re gonna want to puree the squash into a smooth consistency so that you don’t gross out when eating this luscious pie. But for me, I left the squash just as it was since I wanted the texture to be a bit stringy as I was aiming for the consistency of coconut pie (which is stringy and custardy). I baked the pie in the oven for about an hour and couldn’t wait to taste it.
When the moment of truth finally arrived, I cut into the pie with a bit of uncertainty. Would it taste like other squash pies – all harvest-y and spicy, or would it be bland and inedible? Would my crust be tough like usual, or dry and disgusting…or did I manage to get it right this time? I was nervous, and so was Sam. As I set the wedge down in front of him, his eyebrows raised and he looked at me with one of those looks that says, “honey, I love you, but why do you insist on making me eat things that are just stringy and weird….” With a smile of confidence on my face, I decided to take the first bite – I’m a giver. And WOW, what a bite it was.
The pie was wonderful. It was tangy and lemony, and creamy and chewy all at the same time. The squash was ever so slightly al-denti and had a bite to it that is reminiscent of coconut pie. But the flavor was so much cleaner than a coconut pie. The spicy flavor of the fresh grated nutmeg, the sweet aroma of the vanilla, and the clean, tangy, tartness of the lemon danced a waltz across my tongue. My eyes rolled back in my head and I was in heaven! This was the perfect summer time pie. It has a fresh clean taste, and it is nothing like other squash pies that are served in the fall. Oh what a pleasant surprise that was.
And I almost forgot my crust…..oh-man, oh-man, oh-man was it ever good. Light and flaky, but full of crust goodness. When I eat pie, I usually eat all the filling out of it and then give the crust to Sam, but I practically licked the plate clean with this one. It was the best crust I’ve ever made, and I’m so glad that I put some in the freezer for a later date. No more Pillsbury for me…I’ve finally discovered a pie crust that I love! What did I tell ya? No one knows how to make pie like the Amish!
So, I urge you to run out to your nearest grocery store or farmer’s market and pick up a spaghetti squash and try this recipe. If you’re like me, it’ll open your eyes to the beauty of this often under used and neglected gourd.
Faux Coconut Pie
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
3 cups spaghetti squash, cooked, shredded and cooled to room temperature
1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whip sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl until well combined and slightly frothy. Beat in cooled butter, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until well blended. With a large spoon, stir in squash.
3. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell, making sure to evenly distribute the squash in the filling – it wanted to clump up in the middle, so I took a fork and moved it all around, separating the clumps.
4. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
5. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or a dollop of ice cream.