Vegan (Strict Vegetarian) Pumpkin Pie

No cream or eggs, none none none. Sure, it tastes different. But think of it this way: it's almost healthy! Aren't we all being told to eat more soy all the time? Here, try this recipe and see how easy it can be to eat tofu. It turns out well with canned pumpkin or with pumpkin you cook yourself.

Also included are instructions for cooking a whole, raw pumpkin, preparing a vegan fresh pie crust, and using leftover cooked pumpkin.

Ingredients:

  • 1 350-g box of silken firm tofu, drained
  • 1 heaping cup of cooked or canned pumpkin
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups brown or golden sugar, not packed tight (read this first)
  • dash salt
  • 4 teaspoons blended "pumpkin pie spice" OR:
    • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground dry ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
    • 1 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 pie crust

Method:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Blend the tofu in a food processor or with a blender until smooth and cream-like, for about four minutes. Stop the machine every once in a while to scrape large pieces of tofu down into the machine's blades. Add the cooked pumpkin and blend some more, again stopping the machine and scraping the mixture down. The result should be a light orange-colored paste with no lumps of tofu.

Put the paste into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt, and spices. Mix well and spoon it into the pie crust; decorate with cheerful shapes of leftover crust, if desired. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the crusts are dark brown (but not burned).

Serve warm or chilled, plain or topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

Notes:

This pie takes about two hours to prepare, depending on how you budget your time preparing all the ingredients, and whether you have pie crust and cooked pumpkin available.

A single good-sized sugar pie pumpkin will usually yield enough material for two pies: the recipe doubles easily.

The pie refrigerates and freezes well.

When preparing this recipe and any other food you enjoy, please use organically-grown vegetables, fruits, grains, and flavorings. The Earth you save may be your own.


Cooking Raw Pumpkins (Or Other Squash)

Please be careful if you use carved Halloween pumpkins. Making pies out of your jack-o'lanterns is fine, as long as you follow these guidelines:

  1. Smaller, organic pumpkins have more flavor than the larger, conventionally-farmed pumpkins. To tell you the truth, I wouldn't make a pie from a non-organic jack-o'-lantern pumpkin -- too much effort and not enough taste.
  2. Cook them less than 24 hours after carving them.
  3. Keep all the small cut-out pieces in the fridge because they can be used, too!
  4. Make sure the temperature outside doesn't rise above 50 degrees F.
  5. Be very careful to remove all the candle wax!
  6. Rinse them carefully, check for insects, and cut away burned bits.

One sugar-pie pumpkin usually yields 2 cups of cooked material, sometimes more, sometimes less. A pumpkin pie won't be ruined if the pumpkin you choose comes up a little short after cooking. To avoid surprises, it's best to choose one eight or more inches tall. Organic pumpkins taste better and will be more naturally sweet.

Cut the pumpkin into at least 4 chunks. Scrape out the seeds and stringy material and discard (or rinse and then toast the seeds in the oven and eat them). Caution: Do not attempt to put stringy pumpkin guts in your sink disposal!

There are two easy ways to cook the pumpkin chunks: Bake the chunks, skin side up, on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees F for one hour. Alternatively, simmer the chunks in large pot for one hour. Careful: badly overcooked pumpkin, especially when boiled, disintegrates easily.

Remove pumpkin chunks from the heat or the pot of water and let cool. When they are still warm yet cool enough to handle, scrape the meat from the skin, and discard the skin. Mound all the pumpkin into a bowl.

Grandma's Hot-Water Pie Crust

This recipe could well be two hundred years old. It is English or Scottish in origin, and used to call for lard and butter. I've modified it for vegetarians. Another note: white flour works better than whole-wheat flour. You lose nutrition, but it's a pie crust, not a staple.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 large teaspoon margarine
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups pastry flour or 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method:

Mix up the shortening, margarine, and water until creamy. While it's still creamy and not yet cold, sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until a dough forms. Try not to knead it while forming it into a large ball. Separate the dough into two equal balls for easier rolling; each portion will yield a single 9-inch pie crust or one dozen small tart shells.

Chill the dough before rolling it out, but not overnight (depending on your fridge, 20 to 40 minutes). Use all-purpose flour, not pastry flour, for rolling. To freeze: Roll the dough into individual pie crusts and place in an airtight container, placing a sheet of wax paper between the sheets of dough. Fold the sheets as necessary to fit in the container, but thaw completely before unfolding!

Tom's Quick Canola Pie Crust

Inspired by the recipe above, this recipe is not quite as flaky, but contains no hydrogenated oils and does not require chilling in advance.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 cups white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method:

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly to combine the baking powder with the flour. Add the oil and water. Mix until a dough forms. Try not to knead it while forming it into a large ball. If the dough is too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time. Separate the dough into two equal balls for easier rolling; each portion will yield a single 9-inch pie crust or one dozen small tart shells.

Roll the dough out right away and press into pie plate. You're ready to add your filling and bake your pie!

Using Leftover Cooked Pumpkin

You may have extra pumpkin when you're done making these pies, because it's very hard to tell exactly how much cooked pumpkin a raw pumpkin will give you. Here are some ideas for using it up:

  • Place it in a casserole dish, top with margarine or cheese, and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is brown. Serve as a side dish.
  • Make an easy stew-like soup out of it.
  • Use it in any recipe calling for squash, or use it in ravioli or lasagna as a substitute for cheese.
  • Add a few tablespoons to bread or cookies.
  • Pasties: mix with some onions or potatoes or other vegetable, place into a pocket of pie crust, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. Serve warm or cold -- great for football games and picnics!
  • Freeze it immediately after cooking and use in future recipes.

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