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

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.
Emiko

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 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
In This Recipe

Directions

  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.

More Great Recipes:
Pie|Cake|Vegetable|Milk/Cream|Fall|Gluten-Free|Dessert

Reviews (39) Questions (2)

39 Reviews

Beckey October 25, 2018
This is a great dessert for a fall gathering. Few ingredients means this comes together pretty easily without making a big mess of your kitchen. And well, I love pretty much anything with butternut squash or almonds. I actually like this more than pumpkin pie. This also looks very pretty with the confectioners sugar and almonds sprinkled on top (I also added a tiny bit of whipped cream...). I'm not gluten-free but it's a plus that I can share with friends who are. Oh, and I followed another suggested and made a chai tea with the squash milk... delicious!
 
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.
 
Gosia November 2, 2014
Thanks for the great recepie! To make this a bit easier I've roasted my pumpkin in an oven - 1,2 kg pumpkin cut into 3 pieces at 190 C for 45 minutes (skin on). I then scooped the pumpkin with a spoon (remembering to discard the skin!) and pureed it in a food processor. I also decided to go for the breadcrumbs. It worked very well and in the end the pie had perfect consistency.
 
Gita1 October 24, 2014
Can you tell me exact volume of the puree. I plan to use kobacha squash.. Thanks
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 24, 2014
I'm sorry, although I've made this numerous times I've always measured by weight! I've found that different squash and pumpkin contain very different amounts of water so I would still find it useful to measure by weight rather than volume, especially after draining the squash.
 
ghainskom October 23, 2014
Mine was a bit too moist, to the point where it was almost falling apart while cutting. Maybe I should have drained the pumpkin longer. Still very tasty.
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 24, 2014
Hm, it shouldn't be falling apart. It does sound like it wasn't drained enough - as pumpkins contain quite a lot of water, it's an important step. Artusi actually instructs to drain the pumpkin until you have 1/3 of the original weight of the pumpkin!
 
durun99 October 29, 2014
Artusi's method of grating the squash and then squeezing it in a tea towel until it is reduced to about 300 grams (before cooking) is more finicky but might yield some more precision for people who are concerned about how much liquid to drain. Of course, Artusi doesn't say whether to include the milk after the grated and drained squash is cooked in the milk, so any extra precision may be lost at that point in the process. Also, Artusi calls for the addition of 30 grams of bread crumbs, which would make the recipe not gluten-free but would help with reducing the problem of excess moisture, which should be absorbed by the bread crumbs.
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 29, 2014
Yes, I've described all of this in the original post that was written for this recipe over on the Regional Italian Food column - you can read more about it here! https://food52.com/blog/11435-artusi-s-butternut-squash-pie
 
nance October 21, 2014
I had a 3 pound butternut squash and meant to use just 2/3 of it (to follow the recipe), but I forgot and ended up using the whole thing! I was worried after I put it in the oven, but it was still delicious. Wonder if the texture would have been different if I had used the amount called for in the recipe. What's the volume of squash puree you get from a 2-pound butternut squash?
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 24, 2014
It probably would have been a bit different! But glad it was still delicious. I haven't measured the volume before, I always measure by weight - it's more accurate and easier. But seeing as many people ask about the volume I may have to do that next time!
 
kitkat October 27, 2014
It really was delicious (especially for breakfast... and snack time... and dessert...)! I usually bake by weight too, so the weight of the cooked puree would work as well if you happen to have that piece of information!
 
kitkat October 27, 2014
(This is nance, by the way. Looks like the roommate forgot to log out of her account! Will do that for her now.)
 
Ritacooks/bakes October 20, 2014
What happens to the milk?
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 24, 2014
After cooking the squash and draining, you can discard the milk. But if you like, you can be thrifty and save the milk for another treat: Infuse it with chai tea and honey for a pumpkin-spiced chai latte, or let it cool and turn it into a banana and cinnamon smoothie, for a couple of ideas!
 
Elisa October 17, 2014
just a word of warning, being the same color as cinnamon doesn't make cayenne pepper a good substitute. Gotta stop nagging the kids while cooking...
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 18, 2014
oh noooooo!!
 
Elisa October 18, 2014
It's actually kind of interesting if you top with enough whipped cream. Kind of like the spicy hot chocolate idea. Of course I'm the only one in the house who thinks this.
 
Beckey October 25, 2018
I've done this more than once while making my morning oatmeal! (before I've had enough coffee)
 
Charlene B. October 15, 2014
So happy it's gluten free!
 
Kaitlin F. October 15, 2014
This sounds fantastic. Am definitely planning on making this one soon. Any thoughts on simmering a whole cinnamon stick in the milk with the squash instead of the powdered cinnamon? I just tried a fantastic butternut squash butter recipe that was infused with cinnamon stick and a vanilla bean and thought that might work here.
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 16, 2014
Sounds like a great idea!
 
Kaitlin F. November 19, 2014
Making this now and just took your suggestion on the chai tea as a way to use the drained milk. Wow, that is amazing!! Thank you for the suggestion!<br />
 
Melissa M. October 15, 2014
This sounds amazing. How long will it last? Can I make it a few days before serving? Thanks!
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 16, 2014
To be honest, every time I've made this we've even it so fast I haven't been able to tell how long it lasts past a day! But I will say it's a very moist pie so should be refrigerated and wrapped well in plastic wrap. A couple of days I'm sure will be fine if kept this way, though the almond slices might lose their crunch. If using the powdered sugar, put this on only just before serving as it melts pretty quickly.
 
Lemoni October 10, 2014
For those of us who are lazy and buy our butternut squash puree in a can, can you estimate how many cups of puree we'll need for this pie?
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 15, 2014
I wouldn't recommend using premade/canned puree here -- this is such a simple recipe where the squash really sings out so you'll want to use fresh. It's so simple to use fresh and cook it yourself though, sometimes you can even find already chopped squash which cuts out that one step too! Whatever it takes, but it'll be a much tastier pie if you use fresh. Trust me! ;)
 
Jo S. October 10, 2014
Will try this tonite for my Luxembourg visitors!! Looks yummy :)
 
AntoniaJames October 8, 2014
I'm seriously considering skipping altogether our usual pumpkin pie, come Thanksgiving, and serving this instead! Molto elegante! ;o)
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 9, 2014
Thanks! I think it's a rather lovely dessert and nice for a change too! ;)