I love chicken pot pie.  Okay, really I love all pies, but most pies are dessert–chicken pot pie is your entree!  You could have pie twice in one meal and be totally justified!  Unfortunately, chicken pot pie is, for obvious reasons, not vegetarian friendly, and when you’re married to a vegetarian, it’s usually nice to cook things that both of you can eat.

Enter the vegetable pot pie.  All the creamy goodness and golden brown flaky crust, none of the dead animals.

You can really use any vegetables you want–potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets, onions, sweet potatoes, celery, greens…it’s all good!  Just adjust your herb selection based on your vegetables and you’re good to go.  In my case I had some beautiful golden beets, a bunch of swiss chard and a couple of potatoes so I decided to go in a dill-heavy direction (I love dill!).  But play around!  The beauty of this dish is that you can make individual pies in ramekins, so feel free to make some different flavor combos.

Confession time: I did not make my crust from scratch.  I had Trader Joe’s puff pastry in the freezer and as I was short on time, I just slapped it on top of the pie instead of taking the time to make my own crust.  That said, Trader Joe’s puff pastry is quite delicious.  So don’t feel bad if you don’t make puff pastry from scratch!  It’s a little high maintenance, what with all the folding, pounding and rotating.  (If you do want to make it from scratch though, Alton Brown will teach you how!)

The third important part of making a good pot pie is the sauce.  This is what gives the filling the delicious creaminess you expect from a pot pie.  And the key to a good sauce?  A good whisk.  Whisk the flour and melted butter together to make a smooth roux, and then just keep whisking as you add the milk and stock.  This is how you will avoid lumps.  I’m also convinced the sauce thickens faster when I’m whisking, but I make no promises.

And with that, I give you my take on a vegetable pot pie:

Vegetable Pot Pie, fresh out of the oven!

Vegetable Pot Pie
(makes approx. 5 servings of pie with some leftover filling)

  • 3 medium beets
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • splash of olive oil
  • 3 tbsp dried dill
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp water

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Give your beets a good scrub and then put them in a large pot of water and bring them to a boil.  Cook them until you can get a fork into the center of the beet without too much difficulty.  Drain, run them under cold water, and slip the skins off.  Then dice them and put them in a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, cube the potatoes (you can peel them if you like–I didn’t bother) and bring them to a boil in a pot of salted water.  (If your beets are already done, you can use the same pan to save on dishes, but get some fresh water in case there was any grit left on the beets).  Cook until just barely tender–be careful not to overcook them!   You don’t want potato mush!  Add them to the bowl with the beets.

Dice the onion and chop up the upper half of the chard stems and put them in a skillet with a splash of olive oil over medium heat.  When the onion starts to turn translucent, add the chard leaves (cut them into bite sized pieces first) and a pinch of salt and let it cook until the chard is fully wilted.  A lid helps speed the process along if you have one that will fit your skillet.   Once that’s done, add it to the bowl with the beets and potatoes.  Add the dill as well.

In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat.  When it’s melted, add the flour and whisk until you get a smooth paste.  Then add the milk and stock, whisking as you go.  Keep whisking until the sauce starts to bubble and it thickens up.  Once it’s at a consistency that you like, take it off the heat and pour it in with the vegetables.

Toss everything together until the vegetables are well coated with sauce.  Give it a taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Take your puff pastry and lay it on a cutting board.  (If it was frozen, thaw it for 10 minutes first).  Cut it into pieces large enough to cover the tops of the ramekins with an overhang of 1/4-1/2 inch.  Or if you’re me and you’re geometrically challenged, cut a piece to fit your biggest ramekin and cover the other pies with random scraps.  And then only take a picture of the pretty one.

Set five small ramekins (or whatever odd selection of ramekins you have handy–there’s no reason you can’t make one big pot pie if you want) on a sheet pan.  You can line the pan with parchment paper for easier cleanup if you like.  Fill the ramekins with your vegetable mix.  In a small bowl, beat together the egg and tablespoon of water.  Brush it onto both sides of the puff pastry, and set the pastry over the tops of the filled ramekins.  Put it all in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  After that, check it every few minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  Let the pies rest for a few minutes after you take them out of the oven.

Enjoy!

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