Nothing conjures up tummy comfort more than savory vegetables in gravy, covered in a flaky, buttery crust.
Imagine garlic, carrots, celery, potato and peas simmered in a thick sauce, gently seasoned with salt, black pepper, oregano, and sage, then topped with crunchy pastry.
That's right. Just one crust on top. We're reducing the fat by eliminating the bottom crust for this special version of the classic vegetable pot pie.
Keep reading to learn a bit about the food culture associated with pot pie, and get this vegetarian's modern take on the traditional.
Of course, I've ensured that the recipe comes together fast due to the use of frozen puff pastry. No fuss. No fiddling.
A North American classic
As soon as people discovered how to grind grains into flour, the idea of combining flour and water to make pastry, then filling it with meat, must have been compelling idea.
Archaeologists have identified an early iteration of pot pie (the gallette pie) as far back as 9,500 B.C., according to Wikipedia.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the chicken pot pie in particular may have originated during the Roman Empire, when live birds hidden inside the pastries surprised people at the dinner table.
Wow! So how did the idea get to North America, where today a chicken pot pie is as American as apple pie?
You can thank “American Cookery,” the very first cookbook ever written by an American. It included recipes for chicken pot pie and beef pot pie, also according to Smithsonian.
The influential cooking guide was written by Amelia Simmons and published in 1796, which were very early days for the Republic.
My husband did not grow up in America, therefore I was very surprised to learn that he knew about the American classic pot pie—and vegetable pot pie in particular—since he doesn't eat meat.
It turns out that before we met, in his bachelor days, he would buy Amy’s Kitchen vegetable pot pies.
Amy's is a vegetarian natural foods brand that literally got its start with vegetable pot pies.
Amy’s was founded in 1987 by Andy and Rachel Berliner, whose very first vegetable pot pies were made in their family kitchen.
With a focus on organics, Amy’s catered to people who wanted gluten-free and dairy-free options at a time when there was next to nothing of the sort on the market.
Thirty years later, Amy’s Kitchen is everywhere, including where my husband could see it in the supermarket freezer case.
The company sells 250 products, employs over 1,900 people, and reported revenues of over half a billion dollars as of August 2017, according to Wikipedia.
After my hubby moved to the U.S., he wanted to learn about American food and what people here eat.
Amy’s is a great representation of the melting pot that is American food culture. In addition to pot pies, the company sells burritos, bowls, pizza, wraps, soups, and chili. Sounds familiar right?
The pot pie’s familiarity to many as a classic comfort food is why I recommend homemade vegetable pot pie as the centerpiece for a vegetarian holiday dinner.
The savory flavor of vegetable pot pie is kind of meaty too, so it is a good substitute for ham or turkey.
How to make
Having made this recipe many times now, I can confidently tell you that pot pie is surprisingly easy to make.
Basically you sauté some vegetables, then add flour and liquid to make the sauce.
Simmer a bit, then transfer to a baking dish. Cover the stew-like mixture with pastry, bake, and you are set.
What you end up with is a warm, comforting bite of hearty root vegetables topped with flaky, buttery pastry.
Dare I say, vegetable pot pie is a healthy-ish decadence? It’s perfect for a special occasion, or even a special Sunday dinner.
Recipe for Classic Vegetable Pot Pie
Helpful Kitchen Tools:
- 8-inch round or square casserole dish
for the vegetable stew
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 leek, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 cup russet potato, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 2 large carrots, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 2 stalks celery, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
for the gravy
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups vegetable stock, or water
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 cup frozen peas
for the pastry
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (or homemade) , thawed (see notes)
- 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
- About 30 minutes before you start, take puff pastry out of the freezer and place in the fridge to thaw.
- Finely chop garlic. Wash and chop leeks, potatoes, carrots, and celery into ½-inch pieces. Chop fresh sage and get out the dried oregano and have it ready by the stove.
Cook the filling
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, leeks, potatoes, carrots, celery, sage, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Sauté until vegetables start to soften and cook, about 10 minutes.
- Add flour and use a wooden spoon to mix it thoroughly into the vegetables. Add vegetable broth or water and stir well. After it starts simmering, add the milk and stir well. Continue stirring and simmering until the gravy is smooth.
- Add frozen peas and continue to cook until the mixture begins to thicken (5-10 minutes). Transfer to a casserole dish.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare the pastry
- Take the puff pastry out of the fridge and open up 1 sheet of puff pastry. Roll gently with a rolling pin to smooth any creases. Work quickly because you don't want the pastry to thaw as it becomes very soft. Use a knife to trim the pastry to about ½ inch larger than the diameter of your baking dish. Place the pastry on top of the stew and tuck the edges gently down into it. Cut steam vents into the top of the pastry with a sharp knife. Use a brush to top the pastry with beaten egg white.
Bake the pot pie
- Place your baking dish on a baking sheet if there is a chance it could run over. Bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven until pastry is golden brown, and the filling is bubbling, about 20-25 minutes.