Veggie Pot Pies with Crispy Potatoes
Easy vegan pot pies filled with heaps of veggies like carrots, mushrooms and greens. Crispy, golden-brown potato slices are a delicious alternative to a finicky pie crust. Baked to perfection and served bubbling hot. Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
I’m bundled up in my thickest socks and have no fewer than two blankets wrapped around me. The wind is howling outside and the rain is pelting our windows. It’s been like this for a couple days now. By the time it’s over, Vancouver will have had three storms rip through the city in a single week. And while nobody gave our cats a heads up, they can clearly sense it: both Taro and Forrest are on high alert, posted at the living room window with their tails wagging furiously.
It’s safe to say, I’m staying in this weekend. And besides furiously reading this for bookclub on Sunday, I plan on spending most of my weekend doing rainy-day things. Stuff like watching movies with the fireplace on, baking and eating (of course). I’m not quite sure what I’ll be whipping up baking wise, but I definitely know I’ll be digging into one (or two) of these veggie pot pies.
Nothing says comfort food like a piping hot pot pie that’s fresh out the oven. It’s the perfect warm hug on a chilly day. The filling's like a hearty stew - and to top it off, you get a crispy, savory crust on the top. Up until recently, I wish I could say we had pot pie on the regular. But to be honest, the whole crust thing really threw me for a loop. Don’t get me wrong: I love a good crust here and there. But a good roll-out pastry crust takes time - and not to mention it’s typically loaded with gobs of butter and white flour. Not my kind of casual weeknight dinner.
To get the best of both worlds (pot pie + weeknight sanity), I’ve started making my pot pies sans crust. Before you start freaking out about losing a critical part...do know I’ve replaced itwith a “crust” of golden potatoes instead. I was inspired by the scalloped potatoes dish I made for our annual Friendsgiving recently. Because if there’s one thing I would swap crust for, it would be layers of crispy potatoes. And as an added benefit, the potato “crust” doesn’t get all soggy the next day. Cheers to cozy leftovers that keep on giving!
For the filling, I like to use a hearty combination of veggies: carrots, mushrooms, leeks, kale, potatoes and peas. Given that pot pie is usually “chicken pot pie”, I wanted to include a plant-based protein that wouldn’t distract from everything else going on. Chickpeas are the perfect addition. They not only add protein, but also a bit of extra texture. And they retain their shape and firmness after a trip to the oven. In short, chickpeas fit right in. I use canned chickpeas, but you could also cook your own from scratch. If using the canned kind, make sure you rinse them thoroughly before adding to the mixture.
It goes without saying that the filling can be tailored to your tastes. Don’t have any leeks on hand? Add a bit more onion instead. Don’t feel like kale? Try spinach, or skip the greens (nobody’s looking). One substitution I wouldn’t recommend is swapping out the fresh thyme. Thyme adds a ton of flavor to this dish. So while I know it can be annoying plucking off 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves...I promise it’s worth it!
I’ve been making this recipe using 6 mini-ramekins, but it would probably also work with a single baking dish. The amount of potato slices required for the “crust” will vary slightly based on your cooking vessel. I like to ensure I have 1 pound of baby potatoes set aside when making this (aim for ones the size of large golf balls), but it never hurts to have a bit extra just in case. Leftovers can be refrigerated (covered) and re-heated until warm the following day.
VEGGIE POT PIES WITH CRISPY POTATOES
SERVES 6 (VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)
2 tablespoons neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed), divided use
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped (8oz / 225 g)
1 cup leeks, chopped (~1 large leek)
2 tablespoons brown rice flour
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup plain almond milk
~1 lb baby potatoes, divided use**
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 cup lacinato kale, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon each salt + pepper
1 can chickpeas (15 oz / 425 g), rinsed & strained
Preheat oven to 425°F and set aside 6 ovenproof ramekins. Ramekins should hold ~1 cup / 250 mL; if smaller, set aside extras.
Heat a stock pot over medium high-heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook onion for 3 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, carrots and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Then add leeks and rice flour and stir until the flour has coated the vegetables. Pour in vegetable stock and almond milk. Stir well to prevent any clumps from forming. Add 3/4 cup chopped potatoes and thyme. Place a lid over the pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender (~10 minutes).
Remove lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Add kale, frozen peas, salt and pepper, and rinsed chickpeas. Stir to incorporate. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the kale begins to soften. Divide the veggie filling into ramekins.
Thinly slice potatoes for the pot pie “crust”. Layer potato slices over top each ramekin. Brush the potato slices with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with a bit of extra salt and black pepper, if desired. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the tops are crispy and golden brown.
*Select potatoes the size of large golf balls. This recipe uses potatoes in both the filling (3/4 cup, chopped) and for the “crust” (~1 baby potato per ramekin, thinly sliced). You may need slightly less / more than 1 lb total.