Vegetable Pie


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I was inspired to make a chicken pot pie nearly 30 years ago, after having a great one from O’Neills Pub in NYC. It has been a favorite comfort food in our family since our daughters were small, and it’s evolved over the years. To be honest, vegetable pie is not a quick dinner to make. It has several steps but none of them are difficult, and it’s actually a great weekend meal to make with others.  You get mileage food from this, as this basic recipe makes enough filler for 2 deep dish 9” pies. One for the day of effort, one for the freezer, so some lucky night in the future…you can pop it in the oven for a fabulous weeknight or weekend dinner treat.

What you fill it with depends upon who you are making it for – kid friendly – or elegant, a chicken pot pie, vegetarian, vegan, etc.  I think of this recipe as a concept food; you can basically fill it however you want as long as you have the following parts:

1.       The base:  I prefer to use potatoes. Something filling and binding, it could be white beans, it could be potato and cooked chicken. (When I’d make it super kid friendly, I’d completely mash the potatoes – with yogurt or milk, & veggie broth powder for flavor, and add some grated cheese in the potatoes.

2.       The sauté: These are the base-note/earthy rich flavors, which create juice when sautéed (to them you add fresh/dried herbs, black truffle oil, dried mushrooms soaked in water, red wine, celery, etc.)

3.       The vegetables: carrots, green beans, peas, pearl onions, broccoli, chopped kale, and lima beans are an assortment of my favorites. (If I add lima beans, I do not use any other beans.) This could be a combination of frozen vegetables along with fresh. Be creative, and streamline when desired. I haven’t used root vegetables yet, an idea worth exploring…rutebegas, turnips, parsnips,etc.

4.       The gravy: This varies alongside my time and inclination. I have used a good can of cream of celery soup; cream of mushroom soup (both undiluted); my own vegetable stock mixed with potato water,  sauté juices, mashed potato & vegetable broth; and have made my own cream of mushroom sauce with butter, ½ & ½, flour, tamari and the sauté juices.

5.        Grated Cheese: Completely optional of course. Not used with the chicken pot pie. I happen to love grated gruyere or a good sharp cheddar with the vegetable pies.

6.       The crust: I don’t make my own pie crust. I am happy buying the healthiest kind I can find, letting it thaw, then removing it from the tin and molding it into my own dish. I’ve used spelt, whole wheat, wheat, and a vegan crust. I’ve also made my own vegan crust from unpeeled grated potato.

 

Here are the ingredients I used in the pies made in Week 3 of my Meatless Monday – winter warmers dinner/class (my quantity was 2 ½ times this, for 10 individual ramikins):

Ingredients

  • The crust: 2 packages of deep dish pie crusts (top and bottom for each pie)
  • The base:  5 Yukon gold medium sized potatoes (or red skinned, or russet), peeled, cubed in bite sized pieces, boiled until lightly soft. (About 5 cups)
  • The sauté:
    •  1 large onion/diced
    •  1 shallot/diced
    • 1 small leek/diced – white and soft green part
    •  4 garlic cloves-minced
    • 16 oz. combined Crimini & white button mushrooms
    • 2TBS olive oil
    • 1 TBS dried basil
    • 1 TBS tamari
    • 2 tsp. black truffle oil
    • S & P to taste
  • The vegetables: 2 packed heaping cups combined vegetables;  2-3 carrots (chopped & lightly steamed), frozen peas & haricot verts/chopped, fresh broccoli flowerets, kale, sliced in small strips, 1 TBS. fresh parsley, 1 TBS. fresh dill
  • The gravy:
    • My own stock – 3 heaping cups of vegetable peels in 2 cups of water – simmer 30 minutes
    • 1 cup of potato water,2 TBS vegetable powder, & @ ¼ cup potatoes mashed into the water
    • ½  cup Pacific brand liquid vegetable broth

Directions!

  1. Let your pie crusts defrost, especially if you’re taking them out of the tin to look homemade. I pre-bake the bottom crust for 10-12 minutes, so that it doesn’t get soggy. (Follow directions on your pkg.  for the temperature.)
  2. Cook potatoes in water until soft – about 25 minutes. Set the potatoes aside in a bowl and save a cup of the potato water! I lightly salt & pepper the potatoes, and add a dash of cayenne pepper for zing.
  3. Cook the sauté while potatoes cook.  Onions/leeks/shallots & garlic first. Then add the mushrooms, cut to your liking. Then add tamari, basil, and black truffle oil if using. Cover and simmer on low until very juicy.
  4. While the sauté simmers, put together your vegetables in a bowl. Just let the frozen vegetables start to defrost with everything else in the bowl.  I steam the carrots separately so they’re not too hard in the pie. I prefer to keep my potatoes separate from the other vegetables, giving a layered effect to the pie, but that is totally up to you. You can also cook the carrots w/ the potatoes.
  5. In a large measuring cup, combine ingredients to make the gravy to equal about 1 ½ cups. From the 2 cups of vegetable stock I use about ½ cup, combined with ½ cup potato water & ½ cup Pacific vegetable stock.  This is NOT an exact science. You just want to create a tasty liquid to pour around the pie as you assemble it. You can freeze any vegetable stock you make that’s leftover, and use in soup!  (If you’re using canned soup, add some liquid – broth, potato water, etc.-  to the soup to equal 1 ½ cups.)

 

      PUTTING IT ALTOGETHER:

  • I like layering everything, but you can surely just mix it all together if you want.  
  • My layering order goes like this: potatoes on the bottom, a sprinkle of cheese, mushrooms with some juice, a few TBS. gravy, vegetables, more potato, etc. to the top. Get enough gravy per pie. Sometimes I mash the potato for the top most layer, and end with sprinkled cheese on top, then top with the crust.
  • Bake in a 400-425 degree heated oven until hot and bubbly – about 35 minutes. Let it sit for 10 minutes before you cut into it.

To freeze: Fill your pie. Top with your crust. Don’t bake. Cover well with tin foil and freeze. You don’t need to defrost this before baking it. Just pop it in a 400 degree oven, covered, for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil, stick a fork in the center for doneness. If thawed, remove foil for last 10 minutes, to let top crust get brown.

I hope you enjoy this pie as much as I have with my family and friends throughout the years. Experiment with it and make it your own!

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