Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Love is a love letter to the endless possibilities of hundreds of vegetables, both common and obscure. Being that it is about the sensual pleasures of vegetables rather than simple or ascetic vegetarian eating, I thought it would be fitting to try her recipe for a rich squash pudding that can be made into a classic holiday pie. And while I’ve happily eaten canned pumpkin pie my entire life, the complexity of flavors achieved by cooking pumpkin pudding from scratch far outweighs the simplicity of opening a can.

Read more: Classic Thanksgiving Menu


  • Two 2 1/2 pound sugar pie pumpkins, halved, seeds and fibers removed,
  • steamed
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream, softly whipped, for topping (optional)


  1. 1.

    To make pumpkin purée: Peel the pumpkin, and cut into large chunks. Place in a food processor, and purée until smooth,stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. (Makes 6 1/4 cups puree.)

  2. 2.

    Cook the purée in a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium heat, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Reduce the heal to medium-low. Cook and stir for 15 minutes.

  3. 3.

    Reduce the heat to low. Cook and stir the squash for 1 hour and 45 minutes, until it is reduced to 1 1/2 cups. The squash will be caramel brown and very thick with all its moisture evaporated. Allow to cool.

  4. 4.

    Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 425°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch glass pie pIate.

  5. 5.

    Transfer the squash to a medium bowl. Add the sugar, spices, eggs, and 1 cup cream, mixing well after each addition. Pour into the pie plate. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The edges will be golden brown and the center will puff. Let cool.

  6. 6.

    Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

  7. 7.

    Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Pie

  8. 8.

    Prepare a 9-inch basic pie crust, and partially bake it. Pour the pudding mix into the crust, and bake as above. Turn the pie plate halfway through the bake time to ensure even cooking. If the crust rim browns too much before the filling is cooked, cover the rim with foil. Cool before serving.