Spaniards enfold meat, cheese, and vegetables into pastry dough and call the result an empanada. In Greece, cooks stuff spinach and feta, ground beef, or lamb between flakey layers of phyllo crust. In Australia, palm-sized meat pies are a take-out staple, a cultural comfort food.
Here in the United States, we bake pot pies. Fannie Farmer served her bacon, beef, potato, and carrot pies with thick slices of tomato and Bermuda onions on the side. Julia Child and Jacques Pépin agreed on a recipe also with carrot, plus celery, leeks, peas, and leftover roast chicken. Paula Deen’s has a quart of heavy cream and a pinch of nutmeg.
I always assumed homemade pot pies elaborate and time consuming, like twice-baked potatoes, or tiramisu. I was wrong. Despite the multitude of ingredients and requisite crust, the most exhaustive part of my vegetarian version of the dish is chopping those vegetables.
To save time and energy, I use ready-made dough. I like buttermilk biscuit dough for crust, but regular pastry pie dough is more traditional, especially if you prefer crust on top and bottom of the filling. For ready-to-go individual serving sizes, I use oven safe ramekins, but a casserole dish works for this, too.
Veggie Pot Pie
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium russet potatoes, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups additional assorted vegetables (I used a frozen blend of cauliflower, carrots, green beans, red pepper, and zucchini)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 roll ready-made buttermilk biscuit dough
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large saucepan sauté onion and garlic in oil for about two minutes on medium heat. Add mushrooms and potatoes and cook until mushrooms are soft, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the celery, assorted vegetables, flour, broth, and milk. Simmer all for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Add salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, roll the biscuit dough flat and cut to fit ramekins. Pour filling into ramekins and cover with dough, gently pressing the edges to the side. Cut a few
slits into dough for ventilation, and then bake until top is golden brown and filling bubbles, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let ramekins cool before serving.
Nora Dunne is a Monitor contributor.