Meatless Monday: Veggie Pot Pie

Still in search of a meatless Thanksgiving entrée? Today’s ditty is for you.

Cheddar-crusted veggie pot pie. (Kim O'Donnel)

You cannot get more homespun than a pot pie, nor can you can much cozier.
And talk about a one-pot autumnal feast! Practically everything we love about the Thanksgiving meal (except for the turkey) is in there -- the spuds, carrots, onions, herbs and garlic (plus any other root veggie favorites), the pool of rich gravy, all of which gets capped off with a savory biscuit!

I crafted my veggie pot pie, pictured above, on a school night because that’s the kind of geek I am, but honestly, this dish is better suited for a special occasion or weekend project. Although not difficult, a pot pie is time consuming, requiring about 90 minutes of active prep time and 45 minutes of baking time. On the other hand, compared to roasting a turkey and all the trimmings, a pot pie is a breeze.

Below, the recipe details, based on what I had on hand and what we were hankering. (Mister MA insisted on including a rutabaga, a new ingredient for him.) To cut down on prep time you can reduce the amount of veg in your filling; as you’ll notice, I included six filling items, which is definitely not required.

The thing to keep in mind, however, is that a pot pie is the sum of three parts: the gravy, the filling and the crust. Each component must be seasoned independently and must taste really great on its own before it can meet up with its friends. Seasoned mindfully, your pot pie will really sing -- and make all that work worthwhile.

Go-With-the-Flow Veggie Pot Pie
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika or your favorite ground red pepper
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove minced garlic
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (I’ve also done this with Earth Balance spread)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup milk and/or cream (cream is unnecessary but is easiest to work with; half-n-half works well, too)

In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, paprika, dry mustard, black pepper and garlic powder. Stir to combine.

Add butter and with your fingers or with a dough cutter, "cut" butter so that it integrates with the flour mixture, until it resembles a coarse meal texture. Stir in cheddar. Add milk and/or cream, gradually and gently, just until dough holds. Dough will be wet and sticky.

Scoop onto plastic and allow to relax in fridge, at least 15 minutes.

Can be made a day in advance. Recipe makes more than enough dough for a nine-inch round or square baking dish. You could add a layer to the bottom, or use a 10- or 11-inch dish to use up all of the dough.

Meanwhile, get started on your filling.

Ingredients: Filling
3-4 small potatoes -- fingerlings, bananas, red
4-5 cauliflower florets, broken up
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
½ small rutabaga, peeled and diced
2-3 three tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, diced or into thin rounds
1 small fennel, thinly sliced

(Other options: mushrooms, sweet potatoes, winter squash, leeks, bok choy, celeriac, crisp apples)

In a saucepan with boiling salted water, parboil potatoes, cauliflower, parsnip and rutabaga until al dente -- not completely cooked. Drain and chop, if necessary, into smaller pieces. This extra step would apply to sweet potatoes, winter squash and any veg that needs a little softening before going into the oven. Do in batches if necessary. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat a few tablespoons of oil, and add onion and garlic, and cook over medium heat, until softened. Add carrots and fennel slices (and any other veg that need a quick sauté). Add potatoes (and other par-boiled veg), stirring until combined. Add salt and pepper as needed, or anything else to zip things up (hot sauce, wine and soy sauce come to mind).

Make the gravy.

Ingredients: Gravy

2 cups veggie stock (Rapunzel low-sodium cubes are great in a pinch)
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Warm up veggie stock and keep on a simmer in a small saucepan. In a separate saucepan, add flour and butter and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. As butter melts, it will integrate with flour, transforming into a blonde color, gradually getting darker, the longer you keep roux on stove. (The darker the roux, the more intense your gravy.)

Gradually pour stock into roux, while stirring to make sure flour disintegrates and gravy is free of lumps.

Assemble the pie.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a nine, 10- or 11-inch pie plate or baking dish.

Taste veggie filling for salt and adjust accordingly. Herbs too (Oregano, thyme, sage are all good bets.) Spoon filling into prepared dish, then pour gravy over veggies. Set aside.

Remove dough from fridge and place on a lightly floured work surface. Dust dough with flour and add as necessary until dough is pliable and can be rolled out into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Gently lift off work surface and drape on top of filling, trimming excess and pinching edges.

With a paring knife, make "x" incisions in dough to allow steam to release. Bake until dough turns a golden color and filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Serve while hot.

Makes about six servings.

By Kim ODonnel |  November 24, 2008; 7:00 AM ET Meatless Monday , Vegetarian/Vegan
Previous: The Great Sugar Pumpkin | Next: Thanksgiving's Red Sauce


Please email us to report offensive comments.

You posted a similar recipe years ago, "Vegetable Stew with Cheddar Biscuit Crust," and it just happens to be tonight's dinner in our home!

By the way, today's blog recipe is much faster; the mushroom broth for the veggie stew takes some time. On the up-side, the mushroom broth makes enough to freeze in 1c. portions so I can just pull it out for whenever I need it (like tonight).


Posted by: CentreOfNowhere1 | November 24, 2008 11:38 AM

Wow, does this look FINE!! (And thank you, thank you, thank you, NO SOY!!)

I already have my menu set for Thanksgiving - the carnivores wanted ham, and I'll just eat everything else. But I will definitely be trying this one, probably this weekend.

Two questions: Can I substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose? I really don't like white flour very much. And, can the veggies be steamed, as opposed to parboiled? My experience in general is that steamed vegetables retain their flavor better than boiled ones, and I have a really GREAT steamer which I use all the time.

I just got my lab report back for this month's milk test, and my butterfats are averaging over 5% right now, so the creaminess will be perfect for this.

Thank you again. Can't wait to try this. Linda

Posted by: lsgc | November 24, 2008 4:14 PM

Lsgc, I would sub white wheat (the softer wheat versus the hard red stuff) flour, and you can sub one-for-one. I'd have to do some tinkering with harder whole wheat flour -- thinking you'd use less flour than originally called for.
Re: steaming veg: but of course! Sounds like a great idea. Keep us posted.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | November 24, 2008 4:58 PM

Hey, Kim, this looked so good that I'm making it for dinner tonight. Though since we are carnivores, I'm adding some diced chicken (but you know I always tinker with recipes, right?).

I don't think anyone should be afraid of this on a school night, though. Short cuts are almost always possible, unless one is doing serious baking. If budget allows (and mine does as it saves MY time), many veggie choices can come off a salad bar. I didn't have any chicken on hand, so got my chicken there, too, already cooked. Got the cauli, a few broccoli heads, some mushrooms, and shreaded carrot. I know, more per pound but I only bought what I need for 1 meal and there will be NO waste. (Cooking for 2, I can't buy large bunches that I know will go to waste so it makes more sense to pay a little more for a lot less ingredients...)

Since I'm using chicken, I got a jar of zero fat gravy that I know we like. I could have gotten the onion on the salad bar, but opted to get couple shallots. So all I have to chop is the shallots, potato, and a little bit to the broc and cauli.

I've already made the dough (15 minutes or less) and the rest won't take long. I'll report back after dinner with results.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | November 24, 2008 5:36 PM

GAFF! Way to go! Can't wait to hear what you think.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | November 24, 2008 5:42 PM

The veggies are steamed (broc, cauli, red potato) and I pre-diced those. The rest is also chopped and it's all ready to saute.

Couple of things I forgot to mention. I did mention the fat free gravy. I usually buy fat free/low fat when possible but I used cream and sharp cheddar. Next time, I may try the dough with 1% milk and reduced fat cheese. (I bought a bag of shredded cheese, another time saver.) Total prep time, not counting letting the veggies steam unattended, under 30 minutes so far. Just letting the steamed stuff cool a little before a quick saute.

More later...

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | November 24, 2008 6:09 PM

kim - this looks amazing. i'm definitely going to have to try it. on a kind of related note, can i ask a question on biscuits? i'm trying to make biscuits and i'm doing something wrong. they are coming out more like scones. i cut in the butter by hand quickly until it resembles corn meal. am i cutting the butter too fine? should the dough resemble more like peas? i have to admit that the last time i made a pot pie, i used pre-made pie dough... i'm going to try this recipe out for the holidays and serve in mini-portions as an appetizer to keep folks happy till the big meal. thanks for posting this, kim!

Posted by: suemember | November 24, 2008 6:59 PM

Final Report. OMG

Mr. AG finished a large portion, went back to the kitchen, got some more and reported "I'm having seconds so I can have more of this crust."

I was most worried about the crust, but it turned out AMAZING. Kim, I just posted a pic on my Facebook page. Feel free to share.

One final tip. I put the pie dish on a pizza pan to bake and I'm glad I did. There was a little bit of drip since I really made a slightly over stuffed pie.

I will definitely be making this again, especially if the crust turns out as good using healthier ingredients. (Or, this just might be a stand-by guilty pleasure...) The options for the filling are endless. This is possibly one of the most adaptable recipes Kim has ever posted!

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | November 24, 2008 8:23 PM

Hey, lsgc, I forgot to than you, too. Steaming the hardier ingredients is great for this recipe. Like you, I prefer to steam veggies rather than boiling them. Unlike you, I don't have a high tech steamer but my little fold-up in a pot steamer gave me amazing ingredients.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | November 24, 2008 10:15 PM

Can someone post a link to the Vegetable Stew with Cheddar Biscuit Crust recipe? it sounds very good.

Posted by: sleeepdeprived | November 28, 2008 12:27 PM

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