Sunday, March 24, 2013

Vegetable Pot Pie

Vegetable Pot Pie:

Ever So Comfortable

Before I get into this, I want to come clean. This is a total comfort food. Typically, comfort foods are not those you might find on the "healthy choices" menu. But sometimes, we don't want to simply feed our bodies. We want to feed our souls. Sometimes it's nice to just eat something without the constant thought of whether or not it has too much saturated fat, sodium, or cholesterol. So today (but today only) I declare: "Caution be damned! Let's live! Let's feed our souls with reckless abandon! Then after that, let's go to the pub and get hammered!"

I have mentioned, in past postings, the tale of an epic battle with my wife over mushrooms. I love them in spaghetti sauce. On salads. Sauteed and strewn atop an omelette. Marinated, skewered, and grilled. Any application you can think of, I'll probably dig it. However, she will never "dig it", as it were. So, alas, sometimes I just gotta give in, if only to make her happy, and leave them out.......or do I?


While there are no mushrooms in this recipe, I do use a mushroom stock. It adds that certain level of "meatiness" to the dish. For me, this is necessary in a dish that is typically protein-centric. When I first went vegetarian, I tried all the faux meats. The Tofurkeys, The tofu dogs. And quite frankly, I was appalled. Shocked even. Are these people seriously trying to pass this stuff off as edible? Then it occurred to me, if I'm going to be a vegetarian, why would I spend my days trying to fill the void of meat with things that are mechanically manipulated to resemble meat....but aren't meat? That's when the light went on and I had a moment of clarity. If I'm going to be a vegetarian, I am going to own it, dammit!! That being said, there is ONE exception to my rule which is perfectly acceptable, in fact, logical, natural and holds true to my new found belief. I can and should use foods that have naturally occurring "meatiness" to them....that level of savoriness that's comforts the craving that results from years of focusing my meals around meat. One example, mushrooms. Umami.

The stock in this dish is one of the shining stars. To me, it's important. You can use regular vegetable stock and get a great dish. That is certain. But the "over the top" version will have the mushroom stock. You can buy it in stores but it's not always available. You'd have to check higher end markets and find it there. Or you can just make it on your own. Hell, if you're gonna do it, jump in head first and do it right, man. 

Like many of my other recipes, this is the Doctor Frankenstein approach to cooking. It's made up of the bits and pieces that I liked from about 10 other recipes. One of which was a recipe I wrote several years ago for chicken pot pie. Some of that recipe still applies even though it's all veg. 

To give you a little more of the story, after I finished the dish, my wife and I sat down for dinner. I explained to her that I didn't put chunks of mushrooms in the pie. So we sat and ate. I asked her if she liked it. She said: "Yes, it's really good". After we finished our meals and I looked over at her plate. I could do nothing more but smile and think of how much I truly loved her. She had picked out all of the potatoes. 

Vegetable Pot Pie


  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 4 2/3 cups all purpose flour, DIVIDED
  • 4 tsp salt, DIVIDED
  • 1/2 tsp thyme, dried
  • 1/2 tsp  rosemary, dried leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup water, ice cold
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery stalks, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2  cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup chives, fresh, chopped
  • 1/4  cup Italian parsley
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 egg, beaten


1. Measure out the vegetable shortening and put it in the freezer to chill.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

3. Put 4 cups of the flour into a mixing bowl along with 2 teaspoons of the salt, thyme and the rosemary. Mix to combine.

4. To the flour mixture, add the chilled shortening in 1 to 2 tablespoon dollops to break in it up. Then, using a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until the shortening forms pea sized balls.

5. Then add the ice water, a quarter cup at a time, and mix until the a dough forms. Mix just long enough to form the dough but no longer. Divide the dough in two halves, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, melt the butter over a medium high heat in a heavy bottomed pot. I use a dutch oven. Once the butter is melted, add the fennel, onion, carrots and celery and cook until just soft, about 4 minutes. Then add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes. TIP: If the ingredients begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, add about a 1/2 cup of water to help stop that.

7. Sprinkle the remaining 2/3 cup of flour over the vegetable mixture, stir to coat, and cook until the raw flavor is gone, about 1 to 2 minutes.

8. Slowly add the stock and the milk, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

9. Remove from the heat and add the peas, chives, parsley and the vinegar. Add the remaining two teaspoons of salt. But as always, you can use as much or as little of the salt as you desire.

10. Take your dough from the refrigerator and roll out 1 half of the dough on a floured surface. Make sure it larger enough to cover the bottom of your pan. I use a 9 by 12 baking dish so try to find comparable in size. Spray the pan with cooking spray and then line the bottom of the pan with the rolled out dough, making sure you also line the walls of the pan. Turn your filling into the dough lined pan and distribute evenly.

11. Roll out the second half or your dough thick enough to cover the top and place it over the top of your filling, crimping it with your fingers to the bottom half of the dough.

12. Whisk the egg in a bowl and brush the dough with the egg. Then cut slits in to dough top to vent. Place the baking dish in the oven until the crust is golden brown and the the filling is bubbling, about 30 to 35 minutes.

13. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

Servings: 9

No comments:

Post a Comment