Artusi’s Butternut Squash Pie (Torta di Zucca Gialla)

By Emiko
October 4, 2014

Author Notes: This little-known recipe is a slight adaption from Pellegrino Artusi's 1891 “bible” of Italian cookery, "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well."

Artusi calls it torta di zucca gialla, indicating that this pie is to be made with butternut pumpkin or squash. What makes this very different from North American style pumpkin pie is that it has no pastry base and the filling is made with almond meal (and therefore is gluten-free). It is a very moist pie with a pudding-like consistency.

Serves: 8

  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram) butternut squash or pumpkin
  • 1 pint (500 milliliters) milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) soft brown muscovado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) melted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pinches salt
  • handfuls sliced almonds
  • powdered sugar, for decoration
  1. Remove the seeds and skin of the squash/pumpkin and chop into inch-sized cubes. Place in a saucepan with the milk. Simmer about 25 to 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and leave squash/pumpkin in a colander or sieve to drain and evaporate as much as possible until cool (Artusi even instructs to drain until you have one third of the original weight of the squash). Then transfer to a bowl and mash or purée the squash/pumpkin.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs together with sugar, butter, almond meal, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Stir through the cooled squash/pumpkin to combine well.
  3. Pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch (23 centimeter) pie dish. Smooth over the top to sprinkle with the sliced almonds.
  4. Bake at 350º F (180° C) for 45 minutes or until golden on top and set. The sides will shrink away slightly. When cool, dust generously with powdered sugar and serve.

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Reviews (37) Questions (2)


Marhabanna November 18, 2017
This looks delicious. I have a butternut squash on hand so will use that for my first try, but I was wondering if it is possible to substitute with sweet potatoes?
Author Comment
Emiko November 19, 2017
I have yet to try it but I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes in general, I think it would be wonderful!
Taylor S. November 12, 2015
Yum! It's like pumpkin pie filling but with squash instead, which I loved! Didn't have almonds so I put walnuts on the top.
Bec42 October 22, 2015
any thoughts on substitutions for the almond flour? I make desserts for Thanksgiving that have to be nut-free, gluten-free and non-dairy.... I can use fake milk & butter easily enough, but not sure what to replace the almond flour with. I'd probably use pumpkin seeds in place of the slivered almonds or leave those out altogether.
Author Comment
Emiko October 23, 2015
Although I haven't tried it in this dish, what about rice flour? This is quite a moist, almost pudding-like dessert and I think it would go well -- it could perhaps be worth trying.
Bec42 October 26, 2015
ThAnks for the suggestion! If I get it together to try it I'll let you know how it works. <br />
beejay45 February 23, 2016
Sweet rice flour might be good. If you've ever had Bibingka, that uses it, and it has an almost pudding-like texture. Might need to reduce the sugar just a bit -- sweet rice flour has some sweetness but not a lot.<br /><br />Do your diners have problems with coconut, because you can get coconut meal, too. I have a couple friends with serious nut allergies, but they're okay with coconut.
Ham H. October 21, 2015
Do you think I could substitute Sucanat for the brown sugar in the recipe? I know it's usually not a problem, but there are not a lot of spices in this recipe and I don't want it to have a burnt sugar flavor.
Author Comment
Emiko October 22, 2015
The original recipe that this was adapted from simply called for white sugar but I personally love the sort of subtle caramel flavour of muscovado sugar in this so that's what I use. Sucanat (which I have never used) should be similar to muscovado so I'm assuming it would be just fine.
Carolina December 24, 2014
A blendtec-pulverized roasted spaghetti squash is looking pretty auspicious with this. A pie may end up being the only way they get eaten around here.