Meatless Monday: Veggie Pot Pie
Still in search of a meatless Thanksgiving entrée? Today’s ditty is for you.
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.
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.
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.
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