The glowing colors and the smooth texture of cooked winter squash are evocative of winter feasts, home and the holidays. These sturdy gourds have been around since long before the Pilgrims shared their first Thanksgiving with Native Americans. Squash is believed to have been eaten as long ago as 5,500 BC. The winter squash family boasts a bewildering number of varieties, from acorn to Hubbard, the most recognizable of which is probably the pumpkin. But despite great differences in shape, size and the external color of their hard skins, most can be treated the same in the kitchen -- baked, pureed, or as a component of soups and stews. Perhaps best of all is the rich nutritional value they have in common. Beta carotene, potassium and fiber are just some of their most notable assets. With a nutty and often sweet taste and a smooth texture, winter squash is good and good for you.
two 9" crusts,
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
1 cup water
4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
6 cups cooked puréed winter squash (buttercup, banana, or Hubbard)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons brandy
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a blender, grind the cashew pieces until very fine. Add the water and blend on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the cornstarch or arrowroot powder and blend on low speed for 30 seconds.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the squash purée, sugars, brandy, and spices.
4. Add the cashew mixture to the squash and mix well.
5. Divide the pie filling equally between the two pie crusts. Top with the chopped walnuts. Bake the pies for 50-60 minutes until lightly browned, cracked, and well-set.
7. Remove the pies from the oven, cool, then refrigerate overnight to allow filling to firm up. Serve cool or at room temperature.