By Chef Linda
Save room for dessert because you'll definitely want to dig into this Creamy No-Bake Pumpkin Pie. Spiced just right with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, this pie is a healthy alternative to holiday desserts. The crust is a simple and nourishing blend of dried fruit and nuts, perfect for everyone, including your gluten-free guests. Fresh, whole kabocha squash is recommended here because believe it or not, kabocha squash is better suited for making pumpkin pies than pumpkin due to its low moisture content, sweetness, and lack of stringiness. I bake mine whole several days before; it makes cutting and scooping out the seeds a breeze and leaves the oven open for other things. Use canned pumpkin, if you must, but a little extra effort pays off in taste and texture: it's truly sublime.
A couple of tablespoons of cornstarch is all you need to thicken the filling. A few minutes on the stovetop activates the starch and make for a luscious pie after being chilled. I demonstrated how to make this pie at our recent event, Gobble & Groove. Confirmed pumpkin pie haters gobbled it up and asked for the recipe. What can I say, cooking with compassion certainly doesn't mean leaving out any of the tastes we love.
Creamy No-Bake Pumpkin Pie
1 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw walnuts
1 cup pitted, chopped dates, any variety
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried, chopped figs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Good pinch of coarse salt
2 pounds buttercup/kabocha squash*
1 1/2 cups coconut milk, regular (not light)
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* To cook squash, place whole squash on a baking tray in an oven heated to 375ºF. Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until a sharp knife can be inserted easily. Remove squash and set aside to cool. When cool, cut the squash in half. Scoop out seeds and discard. Scoop out flesh and store until ready to make the pie. Squash can be baked several days in advance.
To make the crust, place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse, while stopping occasionally to scrape sides, until nuts are finely chopped and mixture holds together when pinched. Empty contents of the bowl into a 9-inch pie plate. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
To make the filling, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a small pot and cook over medium heat, while stirring continuously, until it starts to thicken. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour filling into pie crust. Without letting the wrap touch the filling, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Flavor deepens overnight. Slice and serve with whipped cream.