The silky, custardlike base of this autumnal pie is made from sweetened navy bean purée spiced with nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pies made in this way have their roots in dietary guidelines set forth by religious leader Elijah Muhammad. In his 1967 treatise How to Eat to Live, he wrote that beans were a blessed food—but that sweet potatoes weren't fit for man to eat. His daughter developed a sweet potato pie–like recipe using navy beans that was so delicious, it became the most popular way to raise money for the Nation of Islam. Its members hawked them on street corners from the early 1970s onward. This recipe first appeared in our November 2014 issue with the story A Goodly Slice.
For the Crust
- 1 1⁄2 cups flour, plus more
- 7 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄4 cup ice-cold water
For the Filling
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup canned navy beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. flour
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Make the crust: Pulse flour, butter, and salt in a food processor into pea-size crumbles. Add water; pulse until dough forms. Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; chill 1 hour.
Make the filling: Heat oven to 350°. Purée evaporated milk, beans, sugar, butter, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and eggs in a blender until smooth. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12″ round. Fit into a 9″ pie plate; trim edges and crimp. Pour filling over dough; bake until golden brown on top and filling is set, about 1 hour. Let pie cool completely before serving.