Vegetable Pot Pies
It was one of those weekends. Well really it was one of those weeks that lead into one of those weekends. This past Wednesday was my birthday. I kept it pretty low key this year. When friends or family asked what I would like to do to celebrate, I really just wanted to go for a great meal, have a glass of wine, and enjoy their company. It felt right just do lay low, and keep it simple. In doing so, I got to try and revisit a few restaurants that I adore. My husband took me to Madeleine Bistro for dinner the weekend before (they are only open on weekends). Other than completely over ordering because I wanted to try everything on the menu, and consequently leaving feeling TOO full, it was divine. A couple highlights were their beet ‘pate’ over what tasted exactly like a goat cheese crouton, and the ‘filet no fish’ sandwich. It was an inventive meal filled with all kinds of surprises. That week I also meet some girlfriends for yoga (ok one girlfriend actually made it to the yoga party) and beer at Blue Dog Beer Tavern. This is my favorite place to go; I can walk there it is so close, AND they continue to add more and more Vegan options to their menu. One of my girls so thoughtfully researched and then brought cupcakes from No Udder Desserts. They made my heart sing. The carrot cake was fantastic, with the chocolate as my runner up. On the evening of my birthday my family met at Real Food Daily . The nachos there are out of this world. I did hear a chorus of complaints from the men at the table, but I was pleased they tried it, and went along for the ride. Friday night was Tavern with a couple great friends whose birthdays all fall within a week of ours. By the time we got to Saturday I was ready for a serious break, but the activities were just beginning. Isaac’s social calendar for the weekend was jammed packed. TBall, Birthday Parties, a carnival at the school he will attend next year, a trip to the post office to renew his passport… AHHHH!
When I stepped out into the garden on Saturday morning and saw the bounty of herbs that awaited, I took a deep breath and started harvesting. I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I needed something comforting, full of fresh vegetables and herbs, rich and healthful at the same time. I remembered reading this recipe from the Candle Cafe when I received their cookbook. They had suggested having the crust line the bottom of the dish and the top of the pie. I wanted to eliminate the bottom crust, and add more vegetables.
I love that the crust for this pie contains not margarine. There is a small about of sunflower oil to hold it together, but other than that it is not full of fat, and uses whole grains. The crust is loaded with fresh herbs as is the pie. The sauce which is made from soy milk, wine, a little flour and margarine, is rich and thick and really very similar to that of a traditional pot pie without feeling overwhelmingly heavy. You could easily make this dish with or without the tofu. It pairs wonderfully with the other vegetables, but if you are trying to avoid soy, just substitute extra potato or sweet potato in its place.
We served them along side a simple salad with lettuce from our garden. I made some olive croutons, and added avocado, red onion, tomato, cucumber, and vegan honey mustard dressing from Follow Your Heart. I rarely use store bought dressing, but this one is great! I have a major love affair going with follow your heart, but I will talk about this in another post, very soon I promise.
My last attempt at making pot pies was for company, my in laws to be specific, and lets just say it was a disaster. The recipe did not saute the vegetables before hand, and the sauce never thickened enough. You were left with hard veggies in a milky broth, not good. I have had pot pie cold feet ever since, but I am back, and next time the come visit, this will be first on my list of things to make. I think they will adore it as much as we did.
Savory Vegetable Pot Pie
(adapted from the Candle Cafe Cookbook)
1 tblsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
1/2 russet potato, peeled and finely diced (if two half potatoes seem wasteful, you could use a whole one of either….just sayin’…)
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup finely diced zucchini
1 package (about 1 lb) firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup soy milk
2 tblsp. soy margarine
2 tblsp. unbleached white lour
1 tblsp. chopped fresh or dried tarragon
1 tblsp. chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1 rosemary sprig
1 thyme sprig
1 tblsp. sea salt
1 tblsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp finely chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
pinch of salt
2/3 cup of water
Pre-heat the oven and grease a 1 qt baking dish. (I used four ramekins in lieu of a larger dish)
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add garlic, potatoes, celery, carrots, peas and zucchini and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients. Cook slowly over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and set aside.
To make the crust, mix the flours in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and knead until it comes together. You might need slightly more or less water than specified.
Scoop your filling into the ramekins. Roll out the rest of the dough and cut out ‘lids’ for your pies that are about an inch larger in circumference. Place the dough on top of the pie, and trim off any excess. Cut a few vent holes into the top and bake until golden brown (30-40 mins). I broiled mine for about four minutes at the end for a little extra color.
Let stand for MORE THAN few minutes before serving, or as my father in law Paul would say, you are in for some ‘roof hangers’.