SAVOURY BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHESTNUT PIE (V+, P, GF, V, GrF)

A few weeks ago, Agnes, who writes the beautiful blog Cashew Kitchen asked me on Instagram what 10 things made me happy. Little did Agnes know though that the day she posed this question, I was anything but happy.

My son had just started school, so I was feeling quite fragile. We had builders and gardeners turn our house upside down and it resembled more of a chaotic pigsty than a stylish family home. And I had literally tried to juggle way too many things with just two hands, resulting in me dropping and breaking my laptop :(.

Not the best time to thinking about happiness, or was it?

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Though in that very moment, I certainly didn't feel particularly upbeat, the reality was that my worries were solvable, minute even and only temporary. Moreover, I had and still have soooo much to be happy about and I'm grateful for the opportunity Agnes gave me to reflect on all the good things in my life.

So here are the 10 things I am most happy about:

1. I am happy that I gave birth to the most amazing human being I know.
2. I am happy that I know what it feels like to give and receive unconditional love.
3. I am happy that I'm alive.
4. I am happy that I've got a family who supports me in all my crazy ventures.
5. I am happy I learned never to be afraid to ask questions.
6. I am happy that life is full of challenges.
7. I am happy that I found yoga.
8. I am happy that I started this blog.
9. I am happy that I still have so much to look forward to.
10.I am happy I married the love of my life.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thanks for reading.

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IMPORTANT: Please read the recipe carefully and check the tips at the end for substitutions and further suggestions.

This recipe is a plant-based, healthy option for the holidays. It is really easy to make so don't let the many steps intimidate you. The cauliflower 'crust' won't taste like a flour based one, but it's delicious in it's own right, so I invite you to make it, taste it and then cast your vote :).  

Preparation Time: 15 minutes for the pie crust, 15 minutes for the pie filling, 5 minutes for the topping
Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes for the filling and 10 minutes for the topping
Baking Time: 25 – 30 minutes for the pie crusts + another 30 minutes for the entire pie
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients for the pie 'crust':
Florets from 1 organic cauliflower
80g/ ¾ of a cup of ground almonds
3 tbs of ground chia seeds + 9tbs of water (see tips below for alternatives)
A pinch of salt (optional) (I used this salt)

Ingredients for the pie filling:
400g of butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and chopped
60 - 80ml of vegetable stock
A splash of shop bought OR home-made almond or seed milk (find the recipe here and here)
2 tbs of ground chia seed + 6tbs of water (see tips below for alternatives)
4-5 whole chestnuts (cooked, peeled and ready to use)
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of cinnamon
A splash of (organic) olive oil  


Ingredients for the topping (optional but so worthwhile):
4-5 (organic) chestnut mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice), washed and sliced
A splash of (organic) olive oil 
½ (organic) kale leaf, washed and finely chopped
Salt (I use this salt)
Pepper
1 (organic) baby leek or spring onion, finely chopped

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Instructions for the pie crust:
Pre-heat the oven to 200C (400F)
Mix the ground chia seeds and water together and place in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
Line a 25cm/9.5inch pie form with baking paper and grease lightly with oil.
Coarsely chop the cauliflower, place in a food processor and blend until it has a rice-like consistency. You can also use a hand-held blender if you don't have a food processor.

Measure about 600ml/3cups of the cauliflower mixture and place it in a mixing bowl. Add the ground almonds and salt and mix together with your hands. Then add the chia and water mixture and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon, until everything is nicely combined.
Neatly and evenly spread the mixture into the pie form, going as high up the edge as possible, just as you would with a traditional sweet pumpkin pie. Then bake for about 25-30 minutes.

As the cauliflower pie crust is baking away, start working on your filling.

Instruction for the pie filling:
Peel the pumpkin/butternut squash and chop into small pieces. Place the pumpkin/squash, nutmeg, cinnamon and vegetable stock into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes until the pumpkin is nice and soft.
Combine the ground seeds and water in a small dish and set aside.
Then remove the pan with the pumpkin/squash from the heat, add the milk, chestnuts and oil and puree with a handheld mixer until smooth.

At this point your pie crust should be done and out of the oven. Fill the pie crust with the mixture. Put the entire pie back in the oven, reducing the temperature to 180C/350F and keep in there for about 30 minutes.

Instructions for the pie topping (optional):
Place a small frying pan on a medium heat. Add the oil, then the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and stir intermittently. It’s super important that all the water is released from the mushrooms and evaporates. After about 10 minutes, add the finely chopped kale, stirring briefly. Then remove from the heat. Let it all cool before adding the pepper (to taste) and chopped leeks/spring onions.
As the pie comes out of the oven, decorate it with the mixture and serve warm.
Enjoy!