Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Vegetable Pie

We could not believe how delicious this dish is. It is soul-warming and deeply satisfying. The combination of vegetables and flavors, with the flaky, slightly sweet crust, is ethereal. Once you get the vegetables all ready, it goes together pretty quickly.

The British are famous for their drab cuisine, but I always find intriguing and delicious recipes in the British magazines I pick up now and then at Barnes & Noble. The recipes are always straightforward and robust, often showcase seasonal produce, sometimes carry a hint of ancient ancestry (Norse?), an aura of mystery (Celtic?), and a dash of the Eastern exotic, like this recipe's cilantro and saffron.

The one annoyance of these British recipes is their use of milliliters, grams and such. I have gone to great lengths to translate these awkward measurements so that you can produce a tasty result with no hair-pulling!
Adapted from British Country Homes

1 small cauliflower, separated into florets
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into half-inch dice (original called for parsnips)
1 medium sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into half-inch dice (or butternut squash)
3 cups vegetable broth (I used Pacific organic)
1 teaspoon saffron strands

4 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces brown mushrooms, sliced

3 (yes, three!) red CSA onions, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry skillet and crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons flour
5 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Salt and freshly-ground pepper

Pastry crust (recipe below)

In large frying pan or pot, place cauliflower, rutabaga and sweet potato, and add stock. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft to pierce but not mushy. Remove to a 4-quart casserole dish, reserving stock. Pour stock into a small bowl and stir the saffron into it. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pot and saute the mushrooms 'til lightly browned, sprinkling with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Remove to casserole dish with vegetables.

Heat 2 more tablespoons olive oil in pot and saute the red onions with the cumin and crushed red pepper until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Shake a little salt over the onions, and grind some pepper over them. Sprinkle the flour onto the onions and stir, then pour in the saffron liquid, stirring and cooking for a minute or two until thickened. Stir in the cilantro.

Add to vegetables in casserole and mix gently. Carefully place the rolled-out crust over the vegetables, either tucking edges under, or crimping them along the edge of the dish. Cut some vent slashes in the crust, and if you wish, brush with beaten egg for a golden, shiny effect. If you have leftover dough, you can cut some shapes to decorate the top of the pie.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until crust is golden and baked through.

Adapted from several I found online. The pie's original crust recipe used standard butter pastry.

3/4 cup regular flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sucanat or sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt, heaping a bit
6 tablespoons cold butter OR coconut oil (if using coconut oil, measured it out at room temperature)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
3-5 tablespoons ice water

In small bowl, mix all dry ingredients well. Cut in the butter or coconut oil with a pastry blender 'til shortening is in pieces no larger than peas, then add the water a tablespoon at a time, with the vinegar, mixing with a fork until dough holds together like traditional pastry dough. Gather into a ball, smooth, and roll out on floured board to the shape of your casserole.


  1. You *do* like your saffron, don't ya? :)

  2. Purely coincidental! It seems to crop up a lot in recipes with winter veggies. But yes, I do! My taste buds were whetted for it years ago by a family friend of Polish origin who brought us a loaf of sweet saffron bread every Easter.