It’s about that time of year that we start thinking about hibernation foods. Most of us do not have the luxury of hiding in our homes to ride out the brutal winter months (or safely shelter from COVID outbreaks), but nevertheless, having our pantry and fridges well stocked with hearty and ready to go food and meals is a comforting premise. When the blizzards hit, and we have to trudge through slush, fleet and snowbanks to get back home, it’s some consolation to have swift, warm nourishment near ready for when we collapse to thaw in front of the proverbial fireplace (fireplaces are also a luxury most of us don’t have).
Unfortunately, food that can be prepared swiftly is rarely nourishing, not often filling, and almost never satisfying, especially on a cold winter night. The exceptions are those dishes that might take a while to prepare initially, but then can be easily frozen, and thawed and recooked without losing any of its originally flavour. That’s why I love vegetable pot pie – it’s are one of the few dishes I can think of that taste as good from frozen as it does fresh.
In the past I’ve always relied on store-bought vegetable pies to get my fix, but they can be kind of expensive and as the weather has turned, my cravings for them have outpaced what I want to spend, so I decided to come up with my own recipe. You can save a lot of money by making your own and you can customize the filling with all your favourites. Tofurky’s new plant-based Beer Sausages, by the way, work amazingly well with the harvest flavours of this pie.
Why mini-ones instead of a full-sized pie? You can of course use this recipe to make either, but the mini ones make it easier to freeze leftover portions. This recipe is also easily scalable, so you could make a whole freezer full of pies if you wanted to. I used frozen vegetables for most of the filling. You can use fresh ones too, but using frozen is a huge time saver.
Ingredients (makes 6-7 mini-sized pies):
For the crust
3 cups of flour
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
1 cup water
2 tsp of salt
For the filling
1 medium white potato
1 medium carrot
1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup of frozen green peas
1/2 cup of frozen broccoli florets
1/2 cup of frozen sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of frozen squash
1 red onion, peeled and diced
1 tbsp of oil for cooking
2 cups of vegetable broth
3 or 4 vegan sausages, cut up into small slices (I used Tofurky’s Plant Based Beer Brats Sausage)
1/2 cup of flour
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tbsp of fennel seed
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
2 tsp of garlic powder
1. Make the filling. Begin by washing, and peeling the potato and carrots. Chop each into small even chunks. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots first (they generally take a bit longer to cook then potatoes). Reduce to simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes and then add the chopped potatoes. Cook for another 10-15 minutes until both are tender. Drain the carrots and potatoes and transfer to another bowl.
2. In a large pot, over medium heat, add the 1 tbsp. of oil (I used olive oil). Add the diced onion and cook until it’s softened and has started to caramelize (brown) a bit. Next add the cut-up sausages. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes and then add the 2 cups of vegetable broth. Then add the frozen vegetables – 1/2 cup of corn kernels, 1/2 cup of green peas, 1/2 cup of broccoli florets, 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup of squash. Cook for 10 minutes until the frozen vegetables are at least thawed. Mix in the 1/2 cup of flour, 1 tsp of turmeric, 1 tbsp of fennel, 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, and 2 tsp of garlic powder.
3. Make the pie dough. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the 3 cups of flour and 1 tsp of salt. Add the butter, and slowly add the 1 cup of water, about a quarter cup of time, using a fork to blender the butter and water into the flour. Use your hands to finish forming the dough. The finished dough should be pretty dry. If you find it too wet, a bit more flour.
4. If making the mini pies, separate the dough into 12 smaller equal pieces. On a lightly flour surface, roll out the first piece of dough. Lay the dough out in your mini-pie plate, make sure that it’s lying flat and spread even across the bottom and sides. I have mini-pie pans that have a serrated edge which makes trimming off the excess dough super-easy – I highly recommend them if you can find some – otherwise you can use a knife. Poke a couple of holes in the bottom with a fork. Add the pie filling into the shell – about 1/3 cup worth.
5. Roll out a second piece of the dough on the floured surface. Lay it over top of the filled pie shell, and trim off the excess. Use your fingers to pinch together and seal the top layer of dough and the bottom layer. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the rest of the dough.
5. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Lay out all the pies on a baking sheet. Cook for 20 minutes.