Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vegetable Love: Individual Healthy Vegetable Pot Pie

I decided to take Susan's challenge and make a healthy, vegetable rich Valentine's dinner.

Valentine's day is frequently used as an excuse to overindulge in rich foods, which ironically leave us feeling weighed down and not the least bit sexy. Here's a rich meal that feels indulgent but won't weigh you down. Plus, if you serve it with Susan's Chocolate Covered Cherry Pudding Cake you'll have a whole delicious meal in individual serving dishes - fun!

This pie crust is much lower in fat than traditional pie crusts, plus it is 100% whole wheat. It works out to a tablespoon of fat per serving which is very little for crust. The key to this crust is the vodka. Water promotes the development of gluten which equals a tough crust. Alcohol does not promote gluten formation, so replacing part of the water with vodka results in a tender crust that is surprisingly easy to work with. It is also a great vehicle for adding flavor to the crust, but will work just as well with plain vodka; I used pepper vodka that I made.

Individual Healthy Vegetable Pot Pies
This makes enough for four pot pies. Even if you are only serving 2 make the full amount, they keep pretty well for leftovers. Or you can freeze the extra pie filling and dough separately to make later. A simple side salad would round this out nicely.

1 1/2 c ww pastry flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 tbsp veg shortening
2 tbsp earth balance
4 tbsp ice cold water
3-4 tbsp vodka

Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add shortening and e.b. and pulse about 10 times, or until it looks like this: 

The fats should be pretty broken up, with some pea sized blobs remaining. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the water in at a time, pulsing twice between each addition. Add vodka, one tablespoon at a time pulsing with each addition, until it looks like wet sand:

And holds together when you smush it:

Carefully pour contents of the food processor into a length of plastic wrap and gather it around until you have a disk:

Stash in fridge 30 minutes while you make the filling.

For Filling
1 tsp olive oil
1 carrot, diced small
1 rib celery, diced small
1 small onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 bay leaf
up to1/2 tsp salt (dependent on your broth)
1/3 c ww pastry flour
1 tbsp chicken flavor broth mix or nutritional yeast
1/4 c dry white wine
1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 c non-dairy milk plus a few tablespoons more for crust
3/4 lb poultry flavored seitan, chopped or 1 1/2 c soy curls, reconstituted*
1 generous cup chopped veggies of your choice (I used frozen mixed veggies)

Preheat oven to 425. Place 4, 6 or 8 ounce, ramekins on a baking sheet. 

Place olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until hot. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Saute 2 minutes, stirring a couple time. Add garlic, stir to combine and cook 1 minute more. Add thyme, poultry seasoning, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook 30 more seconds. 

Sprinkle in flour and chicken broth mix and stir to coat veggies. Cook one minute, stirring almost constantly. Continuing to stir constantly, slowly pour in wine and broth, taking care to avoid lumps. Stir in non-dairy milk. Add seitan and veggies. Stir to evenly incorporate and bring to a bubble. Once sauce is nicely thickened, about a minute, turn off heat and set aside to work on crust. 

Remove crust from 'fridge. Break 1/3 of disk off and set aside remaining crust. Roll out the 1/3 portion (perfection is not critical) and cut into four sections. Smush a section into the bottom and sides of each ramekin. Again perfection in this case is overrated: 

Roll out remaining crust to about a 9 inch circle or square. Divide into 4 equal section. Use a small cookie cutter or free-hand with a knife to cut a heart out of the middle of each section. Remove cutouts to the side. 

Divide filling between the ramekins. (If you are using 6 ounce ramekins it will not quite all fit, you'll have some left over.) Carefully cover each ramekin with a section of dough, doing your best to center the heart cut out. Use your hands to gently smush the crust into the edge of the ramekin to help seal it. Bush the tops of the crusts with soy milk (it is okay to use your fingers!) Place heart cutouts to slightly overlap the vent: 

Brush the hearts with soy milk too. Place in pre-heated oven and bake 30-35 minutes, until filling is bubbling (probably bubbling over - but that is one of the reasons you put them on a baking sheet!) and crust is golden brown. If it is not as brown as you like crank up the broiler for a minute but don't leave the oven as it will burn in a hurry if you walk away.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly, 10-15 minutes. Serve hot. 

* If you use soy curls reconstitute them in 2 1/2 cups hot vegetable broth. Once you remove them you'll have just the right amount of broth for the sauce. Make sure to chop up the longer curls. Also, if you use soy curls you will need to add a little more of the seasonings. Add an extra: 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning, and 1 tsp chicken broth powder.


Anonymous said...

These look so nice! Thank you for the step by step and good luck.

Jen Treehugger said...

Soooo many good things in this post. Firstly I LOVE the fact that the filling has bubbled out the top and is teasing everybody with it's delightful insides AND the fact you used Vodka in the Pastry!!
That is genius!
The Pies not only look good they are soooo pretty too.
Hope you win.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Hey girl!
I thought of you when I wrote my last post :o)

aTxVegn said...

These look really nice. I've never heard of alcohol in crust, but I'm anxious to try it out.

Anonymous said...

I followed a link from Fat Free Vegan and WOW! The pot-pie looks unbelievably yummy. I was thrilled to see your photos showing what the crust should look like at various stages. I am a very hands-on learner, so I really need pix like these. I will certainly bookmark your site. So glad you entered the contest!

Anonymous said...

By the way - looked through the links for blogs you 'stalk' and noticed they're nearly identical to mine. Here's another you may be interested in checking out - http://bulletsoflove.blogspot.com/ The blogger is a college student with an innate talent for cooking/baking. Her creativity will blow you away.

Alicia said...

These look delicious. Individual pot pies=Love in my world.

Susan Voisin said...

I love the way you cut out the heart in the top of the crust--very cute and appropriate for the occasion. Thanks for entering the contest!

Bethany said...

yum! I have been looking for a good pot pie recipe. thanks for sharing.