When Jeff and I first started dating I was a vegetarian and we were both in college. Separate colleges so our ‘dates’ generally lasted for a whole weekend. We went out to eat a fair amount during those visits but we also cooked together in small and poorly equipped kitchens. It was a lesson in compromise. He ate meat, I didn’t. I was happy with mac and cheese from a box, he refused to even consider that option. Plus, at that point neither of us really knew much about cooking. Our repertoire consisted of three options: eggs (in various forms), this mushroom ragu, and a vegetable pot pie.
More often than not if we were cooking dinner together, we made that pie. The recipe came from the Moosewood Cookbook, which Jeff’s mom worriedly gave him when she realized he was trying to cook for me. It’s the only recipe from the book that we ever attempted together. It was easy, required less prep work than the ragu and seemed fancier than the eggs. We moved in together after college and it remained a staple. The vegetables were more often fresh rather than frozen and the pie crust improved significantly but at heart it stayed the same.
At some point over the last few years this pie was replaced by other weeknight staples, which were probably also replaced by something else a few months later. I’ve never been one to boast a steady list of staple dishes. But this pie was worth reviving. Unlike most vegetable pies, it’s not attempting to approximate chicken pot pie. This is a vegetable pie, emphasis on vegetable. Nothing is missing.
Vegetable Pot Pie
Adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook
Here’s the thing about this pie, I have made it with just about every vegetable under the sun. Most often it has broccoli and frozen pea among other things since we always have them on hand. It’s a lovely way to use up vegetables sitting around the fridge.
1 recipe flaky pie crust (I substituted a quarter cup of cornmeal for the recipes flour and it was a good choice)
2 tbs butter
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 onion, diced
1 lb mixed chopped vegetables (about 3 cups worth) – mushrooms, cabbage, corn, broccoli, frozen peas, carrots; use one, all or just the things you happened to have in the fridge/freezer
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp caraway seed
2 tbs fresh dill, minced
2 tbs flour
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup ricotta or yogurt (I more often use yogurt), divided
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions to the pan. Add a teaspoon of salt and cook for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and have given up some of their liquid. Then add the mushrooms, broccoli, carrot, garlic, caraway, and dill along with another teaspoon of salt and cook for another 15 minutes until everything is cooked but not soft and any liquid released from the vegetables has been cooked off. Add the flour and cook for another minute or two until all of the flour has absorbed some liquid and there is no more visible flour in the pan. Take the mixture off the heat and let it cool for at least 20 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooling, get a pie pan and roll out the pie dough. Arrange the rolled out dough in the pan (making any kind of fancy or non-funcy crust edges you want) and then put it in the freezer to firm up for at least 15 minutes. That will help it hold it’s shape while it bakes. Don’t worry about the greasing the pan, there’s plenty of butter in the recipe.
When the vegetables are cool, preheat the oven to 350F. To the vegetables add one cup of ricotta/yogurt, the eggs, the last teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Stir well to combine and add the mixture to the pie crust. Top it with the remaining ricotta/yogurt and then sprinkle on the paprika and cayenne. Put the pie on a baking sheet lined with foil (to catch any drips) and bake it in the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown on the edges. Remove it from the oven and let it cool for at least 5 minutes. Then slice and serve hot, warm, room temperature, or cold from the fridge as breakfast pie in the morning.