Today was a great day. We were able to have guests for the second time in two years (the first being this New Year’s Eve). The Big Guy decided upon a pretty quick breakfast of protein pancakes served with oatmeal yoghurt and maple syrup for speed. I’ve mentioned that I don’t often like sweet breakfasts, but these felt like a treat.
Our guests arrived in time for a hearty Sunday lunch. We would have a roast dinner every Sunday when I lived with mum and dad. My parents still have a roast every week, although I haven’t really kept up with the tradition. When I decided on the menu for today, I was feeling a little nostalgic, so decided that I’d do a vegan version of a Sunday lunch. Though this time with a pie as the centrepiece, instead of a roasted joint of meat. I share the pie recipe below.
We served the pie with all of the trimmings – steamed tenderstem broccoli, peas cooked briefly in boiling water, roast potatoes, and a home made onion gravy. I didn’t really get photos of the gravy process, but I will share that in another post when I have chance to remake it.
I’d also invited our guests to stay for an evening meal. I’d seen an article about a vegan pizza with a white bean dip instead of a tomato sauce, topped with roasted butternut, thinly sliced apple and caramelised onions. I also wanted to experiment with pizza in our Ninja Foodi. Pizza always goes down well with kids, so what better excuse than to give my version a go for the occasion? I made a batch of Dan Lepard’s Pizza Dough and proofed it in the fridge, so it would be ready for this evening’s adventures.
Recipe: Root Veg and Ale Pie
Serves 4-6 people
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 1 hour
This hearty pie is great as part of a Sunday lunch, and would fit as well as a weeknight meal, served with chips, or mashed potatoes.
I made this as a pot pie, using shop-bought puff pastry. It would be as good made into a fully-enclosed pie, but if you’re going to do that, I recommend blind baking the base, because it will go soggy otherwise.
If you’re making your own, either a shortcrust pastry or a rough puff pastry, using vegan margarine will serve it well.
1/2 medium celariac root, peeled and diced into 1cm cube
Oil for frying
15 pearl onions (also called silver onions), peeled but kept whole
4 medium carrots, cut into 2 cm chunks
3 celery ribs, cut into 1cm slices
1 leek both the white and green parts, halved and washed, then cut into 1cm slices
6-8 garlic cloves, papery skins removed but otherwise kept whole (optional)
1 bay leaf
Sprig of thyme
2 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
350 ml any dark ale or stout. I used Old Speckled Hen for this pie
Good quality vegetable stock to cover the vegetables. I used about 300ml of my tomato-based sumptuous stock from scraps
1-2 tsp Marmite or Vegemite
Salt & pepper to taste
1 portion vegan pastry – you can use shop-bought puff pastry, or home-made shortcrust or rough puff pastry
A little plant milk for brushing the pastry
Once you’ve chopped the celeriac, put it in a large bowl and cover with cold water and a couple of drops of lemon juice or vinegar.
In a large dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pan, heat some oil over a medium-low heat.
When the oil is shimmering, add the pearl onions. Cover the pan and cook until brown and caramelised on all sides. Stir occassionaly, to achieve the all round colour. Once the maillard reaction has happened, and you have pretty even colour, remove to a separate large dish with a slotted spoon.
At this point, you might need to add a little more oil. Add the carrots to the pan, and sweat them off, again not disturbing them too much. Cook the carrots until they’ve started to brown a little on the outside. Remove to the same bowl as the onions.
Check to see if there’s enough oil in the pan, and cook off the celery in a similar fashion. Once again, you’re looking to soften and slightly colour the celery, before removing to the vegetable dish.
You may need to cook the celeraic in batches, because if the pan is too crowded you won’t get them to brown nicely. Drain well before use. Check the pan for oil, and add the celeriac cubes. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cover the pan and allow the celeriac to brown, stirring occassionally. They’re done when they’re fairly evenly browned on all sides. Remove to the bowl with the other vegetables, and continue to cook the batches until they’re all done.
Check the pan for oil for the final time, and lower the heat a little. Sweat off the leek and the garlic cloves, if you’re using them. Add the bay leaf, thyme and season with a little salt and pepper.
When the leek is soft and silky, and the green parts have become a bright chartreuse, add the flour. Cook out whilst stirring for one or two minutes, until the flour has toasted and turned a light brown colour.
Add the tomato purée and cook this out for about a minute, until the purée has darkened slightly
Whilst stirring or whisking constantly, add the beer slowly. Whisk out any lumps of flour. Then stir in 1 tsp of Marmite. Cook for a few minutes on a medium heat.
Return all of the vegetables to the pan and add enough vegetable stock so the liquid reaches the bottom of the top layer of vegetables. give everything a good stir, and taste to see if you need to adjust the Marmite.
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
Cover the pan, and cook the vegetables in this broth for 20 mins.
Remove the lid and look at the gravy. You want the gravy to be slightly thicker than the gravy you pour on your sunday lunch. The same consistency as unwhipped double cream. If the gravy is too liquid, you can turn up the heat and reduce it down a bit with the vegetables in, or you can thicken it with about a tablespoon of cornflour slaked in cold water.
Once the gravy is the right consistency, taste and adjust for seasoning, and remove from the heat. Remember to remove the bay leaf and any remains of the thyme stalks.
Roll out your pastry and cut to the size of your pie dish. If you want to make a fully encased pie, roll out the bottom layer, and blind bake it for 10 minutes, then roll out the lid.
Fill the pie dish with the vegetable filling. Cover the pie with your pastry layer. For the fully enclosed pie, brush the cooked bottom rim with a little plant milk, before covering, then crimp the top pastry layer shut over the top of the filling.
Use the offcuts of the pastry to decorate your pie lid, if you wish. Get the two layers of pastry to stick to each other by brushing the base of the decoration with a little bit of plant milk before placing it on the lid.
Brush the top of the pie lid with plant milk to help it get a nice even brown all over. Pierce two or three slits into the pastry to allow steam to vent during cooking.
Bake in your preheated oven until the pastry is nice and brown and crisp all over. If you’re using warm filling, this takes 15 minutes in an air fryer, or half an hour in a normal oven. If you’re using chilled filling, bake at 160°C/320°F, which will take 15 minutes longer for either cooking method.
Serving Suggestions and Substitutions
You can really use any vegetables you like in this pie. I think mushrooms would be a really welcome addition. I didn’t use them today, because one of my guests doesn’t like them. Parsnips, salsify, roasted pumpkin, fennel or sweet potatoes would also go really well in this pie. Whatever vegetables you use, take the time to get some colour on them, because it really makes a big difference to the flavour.
How to Store
This versatile pie can be made up to four days in advance. Cook up the pie filling, and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Make some pastry and store in a bag, or tightly wrapped in the fridge. Store both elements separately.
The pie will freeze really well. You can freeze the filling and the pastry separately, you can pre-make the pie and freeze the whole thing before cooking at 180°C/350°F from frozen for an hour.
The cooked pie or the cooked pie filling will keep in the fridge for at least a week. If you just store the pie filling, you can make more pies for a really easy weeknight dinner.