I don’t know whether it’s just me, but I have a profound nostalgia for pot pies. Not some exquisite handmade, heirloom ones. Nope, we got really excited when our busy, hardworking mom threw some frozen grocery store pot pies in the oven. They were pie! For dinner!
Looking back, they were mostly crust, didn’t have very many vegetables in them, and tasted predominantly of salt. But the pot pie is such an appealing thing that even when it came off an assembly line, it has the charm to win converts for life. It’s that childhood taste memory that takes me back, time and again, to making little pot pies. These Winter Vegetable Pot Pies give you all the comfort and homey charms.
Making your own pot pies means you get to pick what goes into them. I’m a big parsnip fan, so I went with ’snips for that sweet, earthy flavor I love. Sometimes white vegetables are less nutritious than their colorful brethren, but parsnips are high in vitamin C, K and antioxidants, so don’t count them out. If you are fond of turnips or rutabagas, they could stand in, although they have a stronger flavor. Sweet potatoes would work, too.
Carrots and cabbage are perfect pot pie veggies, cooking to melting tenderness in the creamy gravy. All these veggies are good keepers, and if you keep them stocked in the crisper drawer you’ll be ready to make pot pies at a moment’s notice.
You can opt to make this vegan or ovo-lacto by choosing either almond milk or dairy milk for the sauce. Be sure that the almond or other nondairy milk that you use is completely unsweetened, not “original.” Sage is a complementary herb that gives everything a little hint of meatiness, since we associate it with sausage and turkey.
I give you the option to buy a pie crust, or make your own. Be careful when purchasing crusts, as most of the major brands are made with lard. Locally, many groceries and co-ops carry Immaculate Bakery brand, which is vegetarian but not vegan. Marie Callender’s frozen crusts are, surprisingly, vegan.
If you tire of the comforting familiarity of root vegetables and sage, you can always shake up the pot pie with different veggies and spice. Instead of parsnips, try cauliflower and add some curry powder, for a hint of India, or dice up some seitan or faux sausages to add more protein.
Comfort in a pie, what’s not to love?
Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of “Big Vegan” and “Plant-Based Meats.” Find her at robinasbell.com.