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, we’re 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 it with 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.
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
- 1 to 1¼ lb baby potatoes, divided (see note 1)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1½ cups diced carrots
- 1½ cup chopped cremini mushrooms (or button mushrooms)
- 1 cup chopped leeks
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup non-dairy milk (unflavored and unsweetened)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 (15 fl oz/14 oz/398 ml) can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 cup thinly sliced lacinato kale (or curly kale)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (more for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper (more for garnish)
- Preheat oven: Position a rack in the upper-third of the oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C). Set aside 6 ovenproof ramekins (8 oz/250 ml each, see note 2).
- Chop some potatoes: Finely chop ¾ cup of potatoes. Set aside the remaining whole potatoes for the crust (we'll use them later).
- Sauté veggies: Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add carrots and mushrooms, sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add leeks and garlic, sauté, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Boil: Sprinkle in rice flour and stir until vegetables are evenly coated. Pour in vegetable broth and non-dairy milk, stirring vigorously to prevent any clumps from forming. Add the ¾ cup chopped potatoes and thyme. Cover pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Slice remaining potatoes: Meanwhile, thinly slice potatoes (about ⅛-inch thick) for the pot pie "crust". (If you have a mandolin, you could use it here).
- Stir in other ingredients: Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in chickpeas, kale, peas, salt and pepper. Let cook until kale begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Assemble and bake: Divide mixture into ramekins. Layer sliced potatoes on top. Generously brush the tops with the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the potatoes are crispy and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Potatoes: Choose potatoes the size of large golf balls. The potatoes will be used in both the filling and as the "crust", so have some extras on hand if you end up being a bit short for the crust.
- Ramekins or baking dish: If your ramekins are smaller than 8 oz (250 ml), you'll likely need extras on hand. Alternatively, you can skip the ramekins and use a medium baking dish instead (such as an 8-inch round casserole or an 11 x 7-inch casserole dish). The amount of potatoes needed for the "crust" will vary based on the size of your dish so have extra on hand in case you need it.
- Serving suggestions: You could pair these veggie pot pies with a side salad, bread, and/or roasted veggies. Or skip the sides and double up on the veggie pot pies, if serving as a main.