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Healthy Comfort Food 2023 Spring Edition: Gluten-Free Vegan Pot Pie

With family coming home this week for holidays and spring breaks, it’s a perfect time to make a delicious—if perfectly imperfect— Vegan Gluten-Free Pot Pie. No doubt, this dish is a project if you make your own crust, so working folks will want to save it for the weekend unless you make the crust the day before and refrigerate it.

I call it perfectly imperfect because I am not a pie crust aficionado. Although my mother was an excellent (and revered) math teacher, she was not a baker, so I never learned to make pie crusts by her side. My friend and baking mentor, Martina Straub, helped me perfect a spelt crust many years ago when I was hoping that low-gluten goodies were good enough to support my health. But alas! I needed to go 100 percent gluten-free to heal my gut and related inflammatory conditions.

The challenge of gluten-free crusts

Anyone new to gluten-free baking has likely wrestled with a piecrust or two because GF flours lack the protein elasticity that makes a piecrust easy to form, roll, and deliver in one piece to its dish.

Of course, you could use a ready-made crust, in which case you may want to cut back on the vegetables by a cup or more — or see if this recipe will fill two pies.

You could also use the recipe from The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, but their flour mixture includes nonfat milk powder, a no-no for vegans and anyone else who avoids dairy. So, I have been on a mission to create my own GF piecrust, one that is tasty, flaky, and easy to handle.

This recipe gets an A in our neighborhood for tasty and flaky. I will acknowledge that it needs more work for easy to handle, so stay posted for updates. Still, the overall dish is so delicious that I don’t want to make pot pie lovers wait another month (or season) until I perfect it! As my friend and neighbor Gena Brown said, “Perfect shmerfect. Delicious is what counts!”

The experiment continues/Update February 7, 2024

The first time I made it, the top crust fell apart when I tried to mount it over the vegetable filling. I switched sweet sorghum to almond flour, and now it works perfectly. Now I use ⅓ each almond flour (delicious!), King Arthur Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour, and oat flour. Xanthan gum supplies some elasticity to the GF flours; without xanthan gum it’s impossible to roll out the crust. Arrowroot is an excellent binder. Apple cider vinegar is required to make the crust flaky rather than hard.

Whether you’re celebrating Easter or Passover (or Valentine’s Day!) with vegan dishes, enjoy this perfectly delicious Vegan Gluten-Free Potpie!

  

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VEGAN-GF POT PIE
Updated February 2024

Preparation Time: Up to 3.5 hours (4 if you’re making a gluten-free crust for the first time). Time includes making the piecrust, chilling the crust before rolling it, baking, and cooling time, so start early!
Serves 4 to 6

 There’s nothing quite like a pot pie for a one-dish meal that delights all the senses and leaves you feeling completely satisfied. Like many of my recipes, this dish has flexible options to make it your own.

For the double crust/9.5-inch pie plate
8 to 9 tablespoons ice water
1 cup fine almond flour
1 cup King Arthur Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour
1 cup oat flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot
14 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup vegan sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chilled apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chilled pure maple syrup

For the filling
1 cup fresh peas
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
2 stalk fennel or 1 stalk celery, diced
2 cups cubed sweet potato (1 large potato) cut into ¼-inch cubes
½ cup sliced leek (1 large leek bulb)
1 tablespoon avocado oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
1 cup Easy Vegetable Soup Stock
1 sprig marjoram (optional)
2 to 3 sprigs thyme (optional)
1 cup plain almond milk
2 cups green beans, snapped into ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon arrowroot
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon high-mineral salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

Flexible Cook’s Tip: 1. Use any combination of your favorite vegetables equaling 6 cups. If you only have 1 cup of green beans, for example, add more of something else. 2. I like using fresh peas, which take some time to shell so shell them the night before. You can often find bagged fresh peas in stores. When peas are not in season, the pie is also good with a cup of cooked chickpeas (½ cup dry, which should be soaked for 8 hours before cooking). 3. If you don’t have fresh soup stock, use water. 4. If you don’t have almond or another vegan milk, use more soup stock or all water. 5. If you like a less savory filling, cut the ginger to 1 teaspoon and omit the turmeric. Marjoram and thyme also can be omitted or replaced with other herbs, such as parsley.

For the piecrust

Use the directions below to make the dough by hand. Alternatively, make the dough in a food processor.

1. Chill water in freezer at least 15 minutes in advance, if you don’t have refrigerated water or ice available.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Measure the coconut oil, adding each tablespoon to the flour mixture, and blend the coconut oil into the flour with a pastry cutter until you make small crumbs.

3. Combine 6 teaspoons of ice water in a separate bowl with the yogurt, vinegar, and syrup. Add the liquid gradually to the flour mixture, mixing by hand until the dough comes together. Add another teaspoon of ice water if it seems a bit dry. Divide the dough into two even pieces. Turn each piece of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a round disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator ½ hour before rolling, giving it a chance to soften slightly.

4. You can roll the pie dough before or after cooking the vegetable filling, or while the vegetables are becoming tender. Roll the bottom crust between sheets of plastic wrap to prevent sticking. (You will need to put two sheets of plastic together for each  (tip from America’s Test Kitchen). Remove the top sheet of plastic and invert dough over the pie pan.

5. Roll out the second half of pastry dough as above and set this aside until you have put the filling into the bottom crust and are ready to cover the pie. (See filling directions below.)

For the filling

1. If you’re shelling peas, start the night before to save time.

2. Prepare the carrots, fennel (or celery), green beans, sweet potato, and leek for cooking. Heat oil on medium-low heat in a 3-quart or larger soup pot. Add the leeks and sauté until they turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add the ground spices and stir.

3. Add the carrots and fennel along with 1 cup soup stock, and bring to a gentle boil on medium heat, and cover for about 10 minutes. Then add the cubed sweet potato, bay leaf, marjoram, and thyme leaves along with almond milk (or a second cup of stock or water). Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.

4. Add the snapped green beans to the pot along with the almond milk or more stock (or water), bay leaf, marjoram, and the leaves of the thyme sprigs. Cover and cook for another few minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

6. While the vegetables finish cooking, place the arrowroot powder in a small dish with 2 to 3 tablespoons of hot liquid from the pot. Whisk this mixture until there are no lumps; then stir the arrowroot mixture into the pot. Add the peas and cook another 3 to 5 minutes until the green beans and peas along with all the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaf and the sprig of marjoram. Add the grated ginger, basil, Bragg’s, and salt, to taste.

7. If you haven’t already rolled the piecrust, take the pot off the heat and set it aside while you roll out the two crusts and put the bottom crust into the pie pan. (See directions above.) Then pour the vegetable filling into the bottom crust and put set top crust into place, trimming off any excess crust around the edges. You can scallop the edges by pinching the dough between the side of your forefinger and your thumb. Pierce the top crust with a fork a few times. You can even create the image of a large heart at the pie’s center! Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds, if you wish.

8. Bake the pot pie for 30 to 35 minutes or until the crust slightly browned. Let the pie cool for at least 10 minutes to set before cutting to serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vata types may want to add ¼ teaspoon black pepper to support digestion of the peas.

If you're watching your weight, make a no-crust dish and enjoy the filling as a vegetable stew!

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