Pot Pies and Shepherd’s Pies (and Fruit Crisp)

I know that February is technically the shortest month of the year, but to me it often feels like the longest. I am not a fan of cold, gray, wet weather. When the weather gets nasty, I almost always do at least one of the following: Put on a pot of soup, put on a pot of pinto beans, or put a pot pie in the oven.

Pot pies usually have some sort of protein source, a mixture of vegetables, and a creamy gravy all swimming under a flaky crust. Shepherd’s pies are basically the same, but might have a tomatoey sauce instead of a gravy, and the crust is made of mashed potatoes.

The pies lend themselves to all sorts of changes. Don’t be too worried about following a recipe exactly. As long as you follow the directions for the topping, and follow basic proportions for the other ingredients, you’ll have an edible pie, and most likely a very delicious one. I’m going to give you a recipe for a very good basic pot pie, but with a list of options for making the filling different from one batch to the next and to make it into a shepherd’s pie. This is a good opportunity for improvising based on what you already have in the fridge (especially handy when it’s too nasty to drive to the store). I’m also including an eggplant and tempeh pot pie recipe that makes two low-fat but delicious servings. The Fork’s High Shepherd’s Pie is one I found on the Web – an unusual curry flavored pie with lots of vegetables.

These pies will warm you up from the inside out. Take advantage of the oven heat to bake up some sweet potatoes wrapped in foil, or an easy fruit crisp. The recipe below is very flexible and can be adapted to seasonal fruit or what you have stashed in the freezer. Stay warm and enjoy the rest of the winter.

Gaia Vegetable Pot Pie

Recipe adapted from The Sacred Kitchen, Robin and Jon Robertson
Preparation Time: 1:00

1 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable stock (homemade or boullion)
1 cup soy milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons Spectrum Organic Shortening or soy margarine
2 tablespoons ice water

Preheat the oven to 350F.

To make the filling: Put the carrots, onions, chickpeas, peas, and parsley
in a lightly oiled casserole dish. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over
low heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 3
minutes. Gradually add the stock and soy milk, stirring until
smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring. Remove from heat. Add the salt and
pepper. Pour the sauce over the vegetables in the casserole dish.

To make the crust: Combine the flour and salt in
a food processor, using the steel blade. Add the soy margarine and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running, gradually add the water, processing to blend. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness, shaped to the size of the casserole dish. Carefully place the crust over the filled casserole,
crimping the edges to seal. Bake for 40 minutes, or until lightly browned.

· Saute the onions lightly before adding to vegetable mixture.
· Substitute two cups of (thawed) frozen peas and carrots for the fresh diced carrots and frozen peas called for.
· Substitute or add other vegetables (corn, diced potatoes, diced summer squash, etc).
· Add 1/2 teaspoon each of thyme and marjoram or poultry seasoning to gravy.
· Add 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast to gravy.
· Replace garbanzo beans with any of the following: any type of cooked bean or lentil, diced baked tofu, diced sauteed tempeh, diced or ground beef or chicken-style seitan, or beef or chicken-style TVP chunks soaked in vegetable bouillon for 1/2 hour.
· For Shepherd’s Pie, omit crust. Boil 6 medium sized baking potatoes or russet potatoes. Peel if desired. Mash and add 1/2 cup soy milk and 1/4 cup Earth Balance. Spread this crust over pie filling and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until crust is browned and filling is bubbly.

Tempeh and Eggplant Pot Pies

Recipe By: Joanne Stepaniak, Table for Two: Meat- and Dairy-Free Recipes
Serving Size: 2
Preparation Time: 1:00

2 cups eggplant, diced (about 1 very small Western eggplant or 1 to 2 Asian eggplants)
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce (1 cup)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
4 ounces tempeh (1/4 pound) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
Biscuit Crust:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon non-aluminum baking powder (such as Rumford)
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat two 15-ounce or 16-ounce individual casserole dishes with nonstick cooking spray, and set them aside.

To make the filling, place all the filling ingredients except the salt and pepper in a 4-1/2-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Place the saucepan over high heat, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the saucepan with a lid, and simmer the mixture, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and season the filling with salt and pepper, to taste.

Divide the filling evenly between the prepared casserole dishes, and set aside.

To prepare the biscuit crust, place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl, and stir them together. Pour the water and oil into the flour mixture at the same time, and mix just until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. The dough will be stiff.

Drop the dough by 4 small spoonfuls on top of the casseroles (2 per casserole). Then carefully spread the dough out with the back of the spoon so it evenly covers the top of the filling.

Bake the pot pies until the crust is golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Forks High Shepherds Pie
Recipe adapted from one by Doug McKenzie on Vegweb.com
Serves: 4-6.
Preparation time: 1:00

6 medium-sized baking or russet potatoes
3/4 cup soymilk (unsweetened if you have it)
1/4 cup Earth Balance or soy margarine
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 zucchini, diced
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup fresh peas
2 cups fresh spinach
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons mild curry powder*
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons Nayonaise or Vegenaise (more if thicker sauce desired)
1 can (or 2 cups) of refried beans, kidney beans, garbanzos, etc.
1 tablespoon tamari

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9 X 13 casserole dish.

Scrub potatoes, then boil and mash them with soymilk and margarine. Fry peppers and onions in oil in frying pan. Remove from pan (don’t wash pan yet – you’ll need it in a minute) and set aside. Boil peas for 3 or 4 minutes in a medium saucepan, with broccoli, zucchini, and spinach in a steamer basket above. Fry mustard seeds in the frying pan. Add garlic and spices and fry for one minute. Add Nayonaise to spices and follow this in with beans. As beans come to boil add vegetables and tamari. Place sauce in casserole dish then spread potatoes on top with fork. Bake in 350 F oven until potatoes are brown. Hold your forks up high!

*Notes: The curry powder and cayenne amounts are for very strong palates. Most folks will probably want to tone these down for the first go-around. Cayenne can vary a tremendous amount in strength from one brand to the next (or even from one batch to the next). Go easy in the beginning – you can always add more!

Any-Fruit Oat Crisp

Recipe By: Lisa T. Bennett (adapted from Joy of Cooking)
Serving Size: 6
Preparation Time: 0:45

4 cups tart apples, peaches, pears, cherries, berries of any type, lightly sweetened, rhubarb or mixed fruit of choice, sliced or pitted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons corn starch or arrowroot powder (if using juicy berries)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup Sucanat
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Add lemon juice to fruit. Sprinkle cornstarch or arrowroot powder over fruit if using a large proportion of berries – this will keep the filling from being too watery. Put fruit mixture in a lightly-oiled 9-inch pie plate or 8 X 8 dish. Mix other ingredients together lightly, making a crumbly topping. Spread topping over fruit, and bake at 375 F for about 30 minutes. Serve warm or chilled. Great with vanilla Soy Delicious or other non-dairy frozen dessert.
· Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger to crumbs, omit cinnamon from filling.
· Leave oats out of crumbs for a plain crisp.
· Add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts of choice to crumbs.