Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kate's Vegetarian Pot Pie: A Yummy Winter Treat


Kate's Vegetarian Pot Pie: A Yummy Winter Treat!

Stage 1: Comfort Food Gone Bad

As a kid I ate a lot of pre-made chicken pot pies.  I remember the blue cardboard box the pot pies came in, the little rainbow decoration that marked the off-brand product, and the oh-so-alluring 50cent price tag.  And, I remember when my love for them eventually turned into a distaste.  Good thing it didn't last forever...

Vegetable Pot Pie Filling
Much like I overdosed myself on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and salads in middle and high school (easy lunch options for my younger, vegetarian self), my parents overdosed me on pot pies early in my life.  Pot pies were incredibly cheap, easy, and because they were bought frozen they lasted just about forever.  These were all strong considerations for two working parents of minimal income.  Pot pies were about as comforting, in ways both gustatory and economic, as our food at the time could get.  When the comfort finally wore off for me from over-consumption I had to wait a certain amount of time for my desire for the pot pie to reset itself.  It took years.

Stage 2: Learning to Love the Pot Pie Again

By the time pot pies started sounding good again they were no longer a staple of my household.  We'd graduate to slightly more swanky fare--only slightly though!--and I'd made the decision to become a vegetarian.  For a few years Morningstar Farms had a vegetarian pot pie with fake chicken in it that I tried out in place of the off-brand chicken pot pies of my past.  The Morningstar pot pies were okay, but certainly not authentic tasting and sometimes even a bit plastic-y tasting, which is probably why production was stopped.

Since then, pot pies have been one of those things that I think about in the coolness of winter when the leaves are falling and the skies are dark and comfort is wanting.  

I've thought of them fleetingly the past few winters and never mustered the appropriate desire to try my hand at making a vegetarian version.  But, finally, this year I gave it a go.

Pot Pie with unbaked Puff Pastry Crust

Stage 3: Making the Pot Pie

Tastier than the pot pies of my memories past, my vegetarian version was simple to make and packed with healthy veggies including butternut squash, sweet potato, yukon potato, peas, carrots, white button mushrooms, celery, onion, garlic and leek.  

For the base I used all natural cream of mushroom soup (Pacific Natural brand and Trader Joe's Portobello type) thickened with nutritional yeast.  The combination of cream of mushroom soups and nutritional yeast give the pot pie that hearty, meaty and creamy taste that all good pot pies ought to have without the addition of butter or extra cream and without the need for chicken stock.

Seasoning the filling were ample amounts of salt and pepper, dried sage and thyme.  The sage and thyme recalled the flavors of Thanksgiving and Christmas, both seasonings being traditional to stuffings and other holiday food fare.

For the crust I opted simply for store-bought sheets of puff pastry coated with an egg wash for optimal browning.  You can't get much easier than that, and you can't dislike the browned crusty goodness that results!  It's perfect for a pot pie crust.

Stage 4: Having your Pot Pie and Eating it, Too

I won't say much here apart from the fact that I ate my vegetable pot pie with a vengeance   Or, to put it another way, I gobbled it up and really enjoyed it.  

So, too, did my boyfriend who remarked just the other night that I was "an awesome cook" and further remarked that my pot pie was especially good and (hint hint) he hopes I make it again!

RECIPE: Kate's Vegetarian Pot Pie

Ingredients
Vegetable Pot Pie, look at that golden crust!
  • 2 12-oz containers of condensed cream of mushroom soup (I used comination of Pacific brand organic and TJ’s cream of protobello)
  • 5-7 white button mushrooms, cut into sixths
  • 1/2c. cubed butternut squash
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and small-diced
  • 1 regular potato, peeled and medium-diced
  • 1/3-1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2c. frozen organic peas
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 leek, cut in half and sliced
  • ¾ small yellow onion, minced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2tblsp olive oil
  • ½ tblsp sage (or to your taste)
  • ½ tblsp Thyme (or to your taste)
  • 1/4c. nutritional yeast (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Puff Pastry Sheets (buy frozen at store, defrost before using)
  • Egg Wash: 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water
Directions
  1. Steam cubes of sweet and regular potato (I used a yukon), carrot and butternut squash until al dente in texture--cooked but still firm because you'll be further cooking the vegetables when you pop the pot pie in the oven later!
  2. In a large saucepan combine olive oil, garlic and onion.  Cook until onion begin to turn translucent.
  3. To saucepan add cream of mushroom soup, spices (salt, pepper, sage, thyme), leeks, celery and frozen peas.  Add nutritional yeast.  Simmer for 7-10minutes.  Turn off heat and add steamed vegetables (potatoes, squash, carrots).
  4. Pour into a large baking dish and make sure contents are distributed evenly.
  5. Place defrosted sheets of puff pastry over top of the baking dish.  Lightly coat top of puff pastry sheet with egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water)
  6. Using the tip of a knife, make small incisions in the crust to allow steam to escape crust as pot pie bakes (like you would do to a pie crust!).
  7. Place baking dish on cookie/baking sheet and cook in oven at 400degrees F. for 30-40minutes or until puff pastry crust is browned on top.

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