It’s been a while since I made this. I have a fond memory of making vegetable pot pie for my neighbors on a snowy day many years a go. At the time, there were a bunch of us related by friendship and/or blood, all living in one building. We all ate this pot pie, went sledding in the park and then ate Mona’s Ginger Cake, which was a perfect warming desert.
l learned to make winter vegetable pot pie from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, but I have changed it A LOT. That cookbook has wonderful general directions on how to make things like pot pies, gratins and soups. It offers and few excellent example recipes and then encourages you to use the techniques to invent your own variations. If I knew a young person just learning to cook, I would buy them a copy!
My version is gluten-free, it has a different variety and proportion of vegetables and I have added dry ginger to the bechamel, which sounds weird, I know, but it is actually warming and delicious against the sweetness of all those root vegetables. If you don’t need a gluten-free version, just use store-bought puff pastry instead of the crust recipe below! Feel free to adjust or change the vegetables. I encourage you to try the my dried ginger idea, but know that bechamel is a milky, blank slate sauce to which you can add whatever spice or herb catches your fancy!
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison
serves 12 (I reheat them for quick dinners for about a week!)
FOR THE VEGETABLES
- 1 and 1/2 pounds of butternut squash seeded, peeled and cubed (about half of one)
- flour for dredging (I used bob’s red mill gluten-free all-purpose flour)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 6 large shallots or 4 small onions, peeled and sliced
- about 8 ounces of oyster mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (optional)
- a splash of white wine
- 1/2 half of 1 small celery root
- 3 small parsnips, peeled and diced
- about 16 ounces of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 5 medium carrots, cut in to 1 inch lengths
- 1 small fennel bulb cubed (optional)
- Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter in a very large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat.
- Dredge the butternut squash in the flour, knocking off any extra. Add the squash to the hot oil and brown the cubes on each side.
- Meanwhile, in another medium-sized skillet, heat the remaining oil and saute the onions or shallots with a bit of salt until they are golden brown.
- When the onions are golden lift them out of the oil. I added them to the squash which were nearly done by that point. If you are using them, add the sliced mushrooms along with a little more salt to the medium skillet that the onions had cooked in. Saute the mushrooms until they release their liquid and begin to sizzle. Add a splash of white wine to the mushrooms and let it cook away, before adding the mushrooms to the squash and onions.
- Start bringing a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
- Trim all of the ugly, wrinkly skin off of the celery root and discard it. Slice the heart of the celery root in half and reserve part of it for another use (like soup stock!). Resist the urge to throw the whole thing in. Celery root has a strong flavour. Cut the celery root into 3/4 inch cubes.
- Add the Celery root to the boiling salted water. Let the water return to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Fish the parboiled celery root out of the water with a slotted spoon and add it to the squash mixture.
- Repeat the parboiling process with the cubed parsnips, cut carrots, halved Brussels sprouts and cubed fennel bulb. The goal is to have the vegetables just tender but not fully cooked.
- Divide the vegetable to just about fill deep baking dishes. I used one large and six miniature souffle dishes.
- 4 cups milk
- 1 small onion, minced
- a few sprigs of fresh parsley
- several sprigs of fresh thyme
- other fresh herbs that you like?
- 7 tablespoons butter
- 6 more tablespoons flour (I used bob’s red mill gluten-free all-purpose flour)
- freshly ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground dry ginger
- Combine the milk, onion and fresh herbs in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat. When the milk is about to boil, turn the heat off and allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
- Melt the butter in another heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat.
- Whisk in the flour and cook stirring the bottom of the pan to prevent the roux from sticking for about half of a minute.
- Gradually pour the warm milk through a strainer into the roux, whisking to prevent lumps. (Save the thyme sprigs for the pot pie)
- Reduce the heat to medium low and stir occasionally until the sauce begins to thicken a bit. It should coat a spoon.
- Remove from the bechamel from the heat and season it with salt, freshly ground white pepper and dry ground ginger.
- Tuck the thyme sprigs from the milk into the vegetables and then pour the bechamel over them, making sure that it fills the spaces between the vegetables.
Gluten Free Flour Mix
- 2 cups brown rice flour
- 2/3 cups potato starch (NOT POTATO FLOUR)
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour
This will make twice as much flour as you need for this recipe. Save the mix for future crust making! I use it for all of the gluten-free tarts, pies and quiches on this blog.
- 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons gluten-free flour mix
- 2 Tablespoons sweet rice flour (also known as mochi or glutinous rice flour)
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 Tablespoons cold butter
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Another egg whisked with 1/4 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix the dry ingredients together.
- Cut the butter in to the dry ingredients and use your fingers to combine until it has the consistency of course cornmeal.
- Whisk the eggs and juice together.
- Add the liquid to the flour and butter and combine into a ball.
- Roll the dough out between two sheets of wax paper or on a surface that has been dusted with some extra gluten-free flour mix.
- Cut out circles that are slightly larger than the top of the pot pie dishes that you are using. Flip them onto the pies. Crimp the edges (or not) and cut a few vents in the top.
- Brush the tops of the pies with a wash made from one egg whisked with 1/4 cup water.
- Bake the pies for about 35 minutes or until they are golden and bubbling.